Philadelphia is known nationally as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country. Since 2012, the city has been recognized as a Silver Status Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, making it one of only three cities with a population of over 1 million to reach that status, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. According to a recent story about a biking mom, who was in the right, but still got berated by a motorist, all caught on her gopro camera -bike riding in Philadelphia is up 260% in the last year. In spite of this recognition, bicyclists in and around the Philadelphia area continue to sustain serious injuries in accidents caused by the negligence. Believe it or not, lots of these bike accidents are caused by dangerous conditions that exist on public property, the most common being the road and sidewalks. While the City continues to clean up some of these dangerous conditions, such as the unused trolley tracks along Delaware Avenue and Center City, issues still exist. That begs that question:Can I Sue if my Bike Accident was Caused by the Road? The answer is yes, but (there is always a but) there needs to have been something called notice (discussed in more detail below), and other rules in place that must be followed, for you to recover for your bike accident injuries.
Some of the Dangerous Road Conditions that Can Cause Bike Accidents
As anyone who has ridden a bike is aware, they can be extremely affected by issues with the road surface on which they are riding. In situations where a front wheel becomes stuck, a bicyclist can easily be thrown over their handlebars and onto the ground directly ahead. Some of the more common kinds of dangerous conditions that cause bicycle accidents include the following:
· Accumulations of snow or ice
· Cracked pavement
· Obstructed or hidden fixtures, i.e fire hydrants
· Excessively gravelly roads
|· Inadequate signage, for bikes and traffic|
· Poor road design
· Dangerous intersections
· Overgrown foliage
· Inadequate lane markings
Once again SEPTA and the City of Philadelphia are trying to eliminate these hazards to bike riders, but they are still out there in many areas. Whether these or other dangerous conditions are actionable depends on a number of factors, so it is critical to have an experienced attorney review your case.
Lets talk about Notice
I mentioned earlier that to sue a public agency for a defect in the road that caused your bike accident they needed to have something called Notice. Does that mean the mayor needed to have seen the giant pothole that has been in the middle of the road for 3 months for you to bring suit, no, the legal standard for Notice for this type of incident is Knew, or Should have Known. So if there is a dangerous condition that has been there a while, and maybe neighbors have been calling 311 to have it fixed, but no one got around to fixing it – well that is adequate for Notice and you can certainly sue for your bike accident injuries.
Suing a public agency can be complicated
Under a legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity, the government is immune from legal action, except to the extent to which it has consented to such action. In plain English, this simply means that you cannot sue the government unless it has authorized the lawsuit by law. Fortunately for the people of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth has just done this in the Sovereign Immunity Act and the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, albeit with significant limitations on liability, procedural requirements, shortened time limits, and other differences from lawsuits against private parties. Because of these differences, it is important for anyone injured on public property to retain an attorney familiar with these kinds of claims immediately.
Protect your rights after a Bike Accident, call a Lawyer ASAP
While, yes, you can sue if your bike accident was caused by the road, the above rules make it ultra important to consult with a bike accident lawyer to make sure you don’t miss a timing deadline, understand the special requirements to bring a law suit and preserve your rights.
Bike accidents that occur on public roads can leave a person with significant injuries that can affect them for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law often entitles people who are hurt in these kinds of accidents to significant compensation. To schedule a free consultation with bike accident lawyers, call KaplunMarx today at 610-660-7780 or send us an email through our online contact form.