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$6.5 Million Awarded to California Man for “Pothole” Bicycle Crash

In 2015, Peter Godefroy was seriously injured when his bicycle struck a pothole in Sherman Oaks, California. Godefroy sued the City of Los Angeles, saying that he suffered a “severe traumatic brain injury,” and that poor maintenance and lighting turned the pothole into a dangerous trap.

Last week, the L.A. City Council voted 11- 0 to approve a $6.5 million settlement in the case. Earlier this year, the council settled for $4.5 million with the family of a man who was killed in a cycling accident involving the city’s uneven pavement.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

In 2015, more than 800 people died and about 45,000 were injured in bicycle accidents. As high as these numbers sound, they are probably an underestimation; hospital records show that only a small percentage (as low as 10 percent) of bicycle accidents are even reported. According to the National Safety Council, bicyclist injuries and fatalities cost more than $4 billion annually.

What to Do After a Bicycle Accident

Cycling accidents are generally treated like auto accidents; if another party was involved in the accident, you should exchange insurance information, document and photograph injuries and property damage, and contact the police if injuries or property damage are severe. Keep records of any associated medical bills, bicycle repairs, and lost wages as well. If the cause of the accident was related to poor roadways or bike lanes, the fault might lie with the city or municipality.

When is the City Liable?

When poor maintenance of city streets, sidewalks, or bike lanes contributes to a cycling accident, the city may be liable for any resulting damages. Obtaining experienced legal counsel can help you determine if the city is liable, and will help to ensure that you file an injury claim or civil lawsuit within the allotted time frame. Cities and municipalities have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care in maintaining roadways, bike lanes, and sidewalks. When they fail to do so, they may be on the hook for your injuries and property damages. Proving that the city knew about  – or should have known about – the dangerous condition, however, can be challenging. For this reason, among others, hiring a skilled MA personal injury lawyer is crucial to the outcome of your case.

Examples of Poor Road Maintenance

There are multiple ways in which poor road maintenance can lead to a cycling accident. Common examples include:

  • Potholes
  • Lack of signage
  • Overgrown plants or trees
  • Poor drainage leading to flooding or ice
  • Debris on the road
  • Faded line markers
  • Poor lighting
  • Uneven pavement
  • Lack of hazard warnings

Determining liability can be a dauntingly-complex process. For example, a road with improper drainage may have been designed by one firm and built by a second. Maybe the funding for the road was controlled by the Department of Transportation, but the city is responsible for performing proper maintenance of the roadway. In such a scenario, each of the parties mentioned may be at least partially liable. But government agencies are generally protected by sovereign immunity, which means you need to take certain steps before filing a civil claim against the agency. To do so, you need to first file a Notice of Claim form. The notice of claim informs the government agency that you plan to file a civil claim against them. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you file a Notice of Claim and determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a cycling accident.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Bicycle Accident Law Firm

If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. Following a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients, and we want to help you. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.