Oak Harbor man suing over officer-involved crash

An Oak Harbor man allegedly injured in a crash caused by a former police officer filed a lawsuit.

An Oak Harbor man who was allegedly injured in a 2021 crash caused by a former police officer recently filed a lawsuit against the city, according to court documents.

Steven James, who is represented by Skagit County attorney Matthew Cole, filed a tort in Island County Superior Court for personal injuries. The complaint names the city of Oak Harbor and Carl Seim, a former sergeant with the Oak Harbor Police Department, as defendants.

The complaint alleges that Seim acted with negligence. James is asking for damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, loss of enjoyment in life and permanency of injury.

A trooper with the Washington State Patrol investigated the accident on Feb. 11, 2022. Seim told the trooper that he had just left the Auld Holland Inn and was driving south on Highway 20 when the collision occurred near the intersection with Northeast 16th Avenue. Seim said he looked out his passenger side window at a construction truck. When he looked up, he saw that traffic was backed up at the traffic light. He attempted to steer to the right but saw a pedestrian and had no ability to avoid the collision.

Seim’s 2007 Chevrolet pickup struck a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria that James was driving. The collision pushed the Ford forward into a pickup.

James allegedly told the trooper at the scene that he was fine, the trooper’s report states. He was checked by paramedics and declined aid, although he had a laceration on the top of his head.

The trooper issued both James and the third driver infractions for not having insurance, the trooper’s report states.

James originally filed a claim for damages with the city on Dec. 7, 2022. Under state law, a defendant must first file a complaint with the city and a lawsuit can be filed 60 days later if the issue is unresolved.