In some cases, local a government can be liable for injuries to bicyclists due to poorly maintained or defective public roadways. Local governments are generally obligated to keep roads free of dangerous defects/obstructions and can be held liable for any injuries that result to bicyclists. Failure to make the proper repairs when needed can result in severe accidents for bicyclists, including:
- Bicycle-to-bicycle crashes
- Bicycle-to-motor vehicle accidents
- Crashes with pedestrians
- Fall accidents
These types of bicycle accidents can be serious and can result in injuries to the neck, head, spine, and other areas of the body, as well as broken bones and other injuries.
What Exceptions Exist That Can Affect Government Liability?
In most cases, local governments cannot be held liable for defects which are too unreasonable to anticipate, or that cannot be prevented even with precautionary measures. Some areas even allow laws that exclude government liability for injuries occurring in public recreational areas.
In other words, a bicyclist who injures themselves on a defective bike trail may possibly be barred from suing his or her municipality. These types of exceptions may depend on local laws and jurisdictional rules.
What Factors Determine Whether the Government is Held Liable?
Although specific factors can vary from state to state, most courts examine the following general set of guidelines when determining liability:
- The actual condition and nature of defect on the roadway;
- How long the dangerous condition existed before the government responded;
- Prior complaints or pleas to government officials regarding the defective roadway;
- Whether an injury would still occur if the roadway or conditions were not defective;
- Cost of repairing the defect; and/or
- Comparative negligence of injured bicyclist.
For instance, if the dangerous condition had existed for a several months, with many injuries happening on a weekly basis. If the government entity received many reports and complaints about the condition, yet failed to act or respond to the issues, it may increase the likelihood of being found liable for public injuries.
What Types of Remedies are Available in a Bicycle Injury Case?
Bicycle injuries that are caused by the negligence of a government entity or local municipality may result in various legal remedies. These can include:
- Compensatory damages awards to compensate injured parties for losses such as medical bills;
- Repairing or remedying of the dangerous road conditions; and/or
- Injunctions requiring the government to take further actions, such as placing warning signs in the area.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
If you are a bicyclist who has been injured while using a public roadway, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to learn about any possible legal options. A lawyer can inform you on local laws regarding bike lanes and trails, as well as the possible options available in your individual case.