February 9, 2020
Personal Injury Lawyer
Potholes and other road damage pose a constant hazard for bicyclists. Hitting a pothole or a large crack in the road while riding at even a moderate speed can send a bicyclist flying over the handlebars.
Bicycle helmets can help riders avoid head injuries, but even the best bicycle helmet cannot prevent a concussion in every fall. Concussions can cause traumatic brain injuries. Other serious injuries that commonly result from bicycle accidents include broken arms and fingers, wrist and knee injuries, facial disfigurement, road rash, neck injuries, and torn muscles.
States generally recognize the right of injury victims to make a claim against the government (or the owner of a private road, parking lot, or driveway) for injuries sustained by potholes and other road defects. Before thinking about injury compensation, however, bicycle accident victims should take care of their health by seeking immediate treatment for their injuries.
Obtaining Treatment After a Bicycle Accident Caused by a Pothole or Road Defect
Every serious injury caused by a bicycle accident should be evaluated by a doctor. Don’t take the risk of “walking it off” and not getting proper medical care. Without treatment, an injury can turn into a permanent disability. Head injuries in particular require a prompt evaluation. Bleeding and swelling of the brain can be deadly, but brain trauma does not always produce immediate symptoms. By the time an accident victim develops a headache, it may be too late to reverse the effects.
Neck and back injuries can cause nagging pain that worsens over time. Prompt treatment improves recovery time. Following a doctor’s recommendations, including attending physical therapy, is essential to a full recovery.
Unfortunately, many bicycle accident victims put other priorities ahead of their health. Accident victims impair their opportunity to obtain full compensation when they delay or stop treatment. When medical records show that an injury victim obtained immediate treatment and followed all the recommendations made by healthcare providers, insurance adjusters are more likely to concede that the injury is real and that it was caused by the bicycle accident.
Preserving Evidence of a Bicycle Accident Caused by a Pothole or Road Defect
Accident claims are proved with evidence. To establish that a bicycle accident was caused by a pothole or a crack in the road, the accident victim needs to prove that the road defect existed. It is important to take photos of the defect before a road crew repairs it. Gathering the names of witnesses who saw the accident occur will also help the victim’s lawyer prove the cause of the accident.
The victim’s lawyer may also need to prove that the government knew or should have known about the defect. Lawyers often rely on neighborhood residents to testify that the hazard existed for a significant time and that government employees have driven on the road and were therefore aware of the problem.
Making a Claim for Injuries After a Bicycle Accident Caused by a Pothole or Road Defect
The government is usually responsible for maintaining public roads, though some governments hire private companies to fulfill that responsibility. Whether the state, a county, a municipality, or a private entity is responsible for road conditions usually depends on who owns the road.
The failure to repair a pothole can be negligent act. Most states have specific laws that govern negligence claims against the government. Those laws typically set deadlines for giving the government notice of the injury victim’s claim. Those deadlines are typically shorter — sometimes much shorter — than the statute of limitations. Victims might lose the ability to make a claim if they do not give proper notice before the deadline expires.
The time limit for giving the notice may depend on whether it must be served upon the state, a county, or a municipality. The required contents of the notice may also vary. Contacting a bicycle accident lawyer immediately after the accident is the best way for injury victims to ensure that their rights are protected.