Vancouver to pay man $175K after fire department SUV crashed into his vehicle

Settlement comes after initial demand of $400,000 by man who suffered fractured ribs, bruised lung during crash at the intersection of Evergreen Boulevard and Broadway Street in Vancouver in 2015

VANCOUVER — The city of Vancouver will pay $175,000 to a man who was injured in a December 2015 accident in which a Vancouver Fire Department battalion chief’s SUV collided with the man’s vehicle at the intersection of Evergreen Boulevard and Broadway Street.

A view of Vancouver City Hall. Photo courtesy of city of Vancouver
A view of Vancouver City Hall. Photo courtesy of city of Vancouver

The crash occurred when the battalion chief, who is not named in public records requested by ClarkCountyToday.com, entered the intersection traveling east with his emergency lights on and his Opticom system activated on Dec. 19, 2015. His vehicle collided with a northbound 2001 Lincoln Navigator driven by William Bright, causing his vehicle to roll onto its side and injuring him.

Eyewitnesses reported Bright had a green light at the traffic signal where the crash occurred.

“Mr. Bright went to the emergency room the day after the accident, complaining of pain and shortness of breath. The ER doctor found he had fractured two ribs on the right side,” according to a city staff report prepared for this week’s city council meeting. “He spent two days in the hospital complaining of severe pain. Subsequently, Mr. Bright had multiple visits with doctors, complaining of rib, back, neck, stomach, and shoulder pain following the accident.”

In his claim for damages filed with the city, Bright said he has also sustained a bruised lung, general aches and pains and elevated blood pressure and blood sugar due to the crash.

According to the city, Bright was still reporting constant pain in May 2017, and his medical records showed he had received close to $90,000 in medical treatment since the crash.

He filed a claim with the city, a possible precursor to a lawsuit, for about $400,000 in January 2016.

On April 13, the city and Bright, or his legal representation, attended a mediation session with retired Judge John F. Nichols and reached a tentative settlement amount of $175,000 as both sides indicated they wished to avoid a lawsuit.

“The settlement would extinguish any and all liability the city might have for Mr. Bright’s injuries and ensure a lawsuit is not filed,” staff reported to the city council.

The payment, which was approved as part of the consent agenda at the May 7 Vancouver City Council meeting, will come from the city’s Risk Fund, which has sufficient holdings to pay out the claim, according to city staff.

According to a memorandum obtained in a public records request, the total settlement amount will be made in two payments with an initial payment $87,500 seven days after execution of a settlement agreement and a second payment of $87,500 seven days after Bright provides the city with proof that a Medicare lien has been satisfied.

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About The Author

Eric Schwartz arrives as a reporter at Clark County Today with nearly 15 years of experience as a journalist. He most recently served five years as editor of The Chronicle newspaper in Centralia. Prior to that, he was an assistant editor, reporter and intern at the newspaper. Schwartz graduated from Forks High School on the Olympic Peninsula before attending Centralia College and Eastern Washington University, where he was the editor-in-chief of the award-winning college newspaper, The Easterner, and received the Edmund J. Yarwood award as the top performer in his class. He covered sports through a fellowship at The Tri-City Herald before taking a full-time reporting job with The Chronicle in 2007. After three years as a reporter at The Chronicle, he traveled to Kalispell, MT, and worked as a crime, courts and emergency services reporter at The Daily Inter Lake, where he won two first-place awards for spot news coverage from the Montana Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2011, he returned to The Chronicle as the assistant editor before being promoted to editor in 2013. Under his leadership, The Chronicle was the recipient of several C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards for Distinguished Reporting, and the newspaper was twice given the General Excellence Award as the top performer in its category by the Society of Professional Journalists. Schwartz has also been the recipient of two C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards for his own reporting and has garnered additional individual awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. Most recently, he and his staff were honored with a Key Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government for The Chronicle’s editorials and news coverage focused on transparency in county government.

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