According to the 2012 National Survey on Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behaviors, 13% of bicycle injuries are caused by road hazards. Bikes are particularly susceptible to accidents caused by road hazards because of their relative instability and thin tires. Unexpected and abrupt changes in the road surface can be treacherous, causing even the most careful, experienced cyclist to fall or lose control and veer into the path of a car. Since bicycles are legal vehicles, they have a right to a safe road.
Who is Liable for a St. Pete Bicycle Accident Caused by Road Hazard?
In almost all bicycle accident cases, including claims stemming from crashes involving road hazards, figuring out who to blame and who will be responsible for damages will depend on who was negligent. In order for an injured cyclist to receive compensation for damage, two important elements must be shown:
1) Someone else breached a duty of care that was owed to the injured cyclist, and
2) The breach of care caused the injured cyclist’ damages.
When a bike accident is caused by a road hazard, the most likely responsible party is the state, county, city, or other public agency that maintains the roadway. Whether such an entity is responsible for your injuries and damages depends, in part, on the type of accident that occurred:
- Accidents Caused by Florida Potholes
Generally, potholes occur for one of two reasons:
- Temporary road fixes sink or crack
- Long-term wear and tear on the road causes surface breaks.
If the pothole is the result of poor temporary repair work, whether the public entity performing the roadwork is responsible depends on whether it provided sufficient warning of the hazard. Sufficient warning might include blocking off the repaired area, or placing warning signs or cones around the area.
If the pothole is the result of long-term wear and tear, the key question as to whether the government agency is responsible is how long the pothole has been present. This is particularly true if previous accidents have occurred there and the public agency is aware of them.
Like potholes, puddles can cause cyclists to lose their balance or be thrown from their bikes. Unlike potholes, puddles can be extremely deceptive because the water makes it impossible for cyclists to know how deep the puddle is or what lies beneath.
- Accidents Caused by Sewer Grates
Sewer grates can present a serious danger to cyclists. If sewer grate bars go in the same direction as traffic, bike tires can easily become stuck between them. This can cause a cyclist to suddenly get thrown from his or her bike into traffic or onto the ground. Cities and counties have changed out many sewer grates so that the design and shape are different or the bars run in a different direction; however, there are still many dangerous grates.
- Sand, rocks, or gravel
Gravel and sand is a minor annoyance for cars but usually nothing more. For cyclists, sand or gravel on the road can lead to dangerous skidding and loss of control.
- Accidents Caused by Rail Tracks
Rail tracks can present hidden hazards to cyclists. They are dangerous when they run on the roadway in the direction of traffic, and even more so when they cross the road at a curve or angle. A bike wheel can easily get caught in the space between rail and road, causing the bicyclist to crash or be thrown into a car.
Common Florida Bicyclist Injuries
A bicyclist can suffer any number of different kinds of injuries caused by a bicycle accident including:
- Deep lacerations and skin abrasions – commonly known as “road rash,” this type of injury occurs when bike rider’s skin scrapes against the pavement.
- Simple and compound bone fractures – broken bones are exceedingly common in bike accidents.
- Head, neck, and spinal trauma – these injuries are often the result of falls or when a rider strikes a stationary object at a high speed.
If you injured in a bicycle accident caused by road hazards, contact the experienced St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to determine what, if any, third party may be responsible. Our attorneys are prepared to review your case today. Please call our office at (727) 472-3909.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712