If I was hurt because of a road defect, can I sue the city?
By GNGF on January 20th, 2023 in
Governments are protected to some extent by sovereign immunity, which prevents individuals from suing the government without permission from the government. While this may sound odd—obtaining permission to sue someone—what it means is that the government must waive sovereign immunity for you to be able to sue for damages caused by your bicycle accident. A road defect is a blanket term that encompasses the following:
- Uneven surfaces, including potholes, loose gravel, or similar hazards can cause a vehicle or a bicycle to have to swerve, resulting in loss of control and an accident
- Lack of proper road maintenance, including non-working traffic lights, missing stop signs, broken guardrails, or lack of dividers between lanes
- Construction crews that are not following safety procedures while working, lead to accidents
- Debris in the roadway, including downed trees, dead animals, loose hubcaps, tire treads from trucks, or even unsecured cargo
- Road designs that are inherently unsafe, including dips, slopes, and steep drop-offs, with no warning signs to drivers.
A significant number of collisions and deaths are caused by road debris, unsafe road designs, uneven surfaces, and lack of proper road maintenance. This can make it extremely difficult for a bicyclist or motorcyclist to stay safe while on the roadways. A pothole that is nothing more than a minor annoyance to a driver can be a deadly hazard for a bicyclist. So, the party responsible for the road hazard or defect—usually a governmental entity—can be sued in order to recover financial compensation.
As with any vehicle accident, you will need to show that there was clear negligence in order to recover damages in a road defect case, which includes proving the following:
- The government, road maintenance workers, or any other entity responsible for maintaining the safety of the road must have owed a duty to you. Unless you were trespassing on a private road, this element is generally the easiest to prove.
- The entity that caused the safety hazard committed a breach of duty, meaning they owed you and other drivers a duty of care and they breached that duty.
- You must next show that the breach of duty directly caused your accident.
- Finally, you must show that the accident caused by the breach of duty caused you to suffer harm, such as injury and financial loss.
In general, when the person or entity responsible for the collision is a governmental agency, you have much less time in which to send notice of your claim—usually only six months in Texas or 90 days in New Mexico. These notice provisions are complex and you should consult with us or another attorney about the specifics that may apply to your own bicycle accident.
It can be much more complex to sue the city or other governmental entity when a bicyclist is injured by a defective roadway condition. The government is protected by laws designed to make these claims as difficult as possible. Plus, there are caps on the amount of money the government will be responsible to pay for your injuries. If you have a potential bicycle accident involving a defective roadway, it is best you speak with an attorney rather than try to handle the claim by yourself.
The driver that caused my accident was uninsured. Can I still be compensated for my injuries?
Your own uninsured motorist protection covers the person, not the vehicle. Therefore, if you are in a bicycle accident with an uninsured driver, your own uninsured motorist coverage will apply to help pay for your injuries and replace your bicycle.
It can be disheartening to learn that the driver that caused your accident and subsequent injuries is uninsured. New Mexico, in particular, consistently ranks high for the number of uninsured drivers. Check your insurance policy to see whether you chose uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If so, then you are protected, even in the event that the at-fault driver is uninsured. An experienced attorney from Harmonson Law Firm can help you determine whether your insurance will cover your injuries after being hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
How the Harmonson Law Firm with Offices in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM Can Help
At Harmonson Law Firm, our overarching goal is to always help good people who have been seriously injured in bad accidents. We believe that once you’ve talked to Clark Harmonson or Hadley Huchton, you will know that we are the right firm for you. We offer our clients highly personalized attention and dedicated legal representation.
If you need help dealing with very real injuries caused by a negligent or careless individual or entity, we are ready to help you through this difficult time. At Harmonson Law Firm, we strive to be a solid source of information, helping you understand the personal injury process and how it will affect you and your future. If a road defect caused you to have an accident, contact Harmonson Law Firm today to get the help you need following your bicycle accident. Please note that nothing herein is meant as legal advice specifically related to your case.