Defective Roads and Motorcycle Accidents
There are many causes of motorcycle crashes, which claimed more than 400 lives and injured more than 7,000 others in 2011, according to the state’s Traffic Crash Facts.
A leading cause of accidents is the negligence of either the motorcycle rider or of other motorists. Another cause is one that most people don’t think about – defective roads.
When a road problem causes an accident, the injured motorcyclist or the family members left behind can take legal action. If the government was to blame for the poor road maintenance or bad road design, then certain special rules will be involved.
At Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, we assist those who are victims of this type of crash in South Florida or elsewhere along Florida’s Treasure Coast. We are familiar with the process of bringing a legal action against a government entity or its contractors in a motorcycle accident lawsuit.
Contact us today and schedule a free consultation. Call 1-800-299-8878 or complete our online form. We can walk you through the steps in your case as you seek compensation.
Suing a Government Entity for a Defective Road Accident
Local and state governments are not just like everyone else when it comes to lawsuits for negligence. They are protected by a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity. However, in Florida, there are exceptions to the rule that the state can’t be sued.
The Florida Code provides for a “waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions,” which is a way of saying that you can sue a government entity as long as special circumstances exist and you follow special rules for bringing your claim.
Additionally, you can’t recover money for punitive damages or for pre-judgment interest. Damages are also limited to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per claim unless the legislature waives this cap and approves a larger payout to injured victims.
An attorney will know whether circumstances exist in your motorcycle accident case that would merit a lawsuit against the government. A lawyer can also guide your claim through the unique process involved in seeking compensation from the government.
Road Defects and Motorcycle Crashes
According to an article in the Jacksonville Business Journal, Florida gets a “C-minus” when it comes to infrastructure because of the poor condition of its roads. This grade was given by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The ASCE also said that Florida motorists incur an average of $128 in car repairs each year because of road problems.
Unfortunately, a problem with a road can cause more than just car trouble. It has been demonstrated time and again that a motorcycle rider who encounters a defect in a road is far more likely to be involved in a serious auto accident.
A Monash Injury Research Institute study of motorcycle crashes revealed that:
- More than one-fourth of deadly motorcycle accidents occur at locations where the roads have debris or are otherwise unclean.
- Many motorcycle crashes occur in areas where there is either deformed pavement or a sudden change in the road surface.
- Approximately one-fourth of fatal motorcycle accidents occur under difficult lighting conditions, including areas where there is a glare.
The Gold Wing Touring Association also estimates that approximately two percent of all motorcycle accidents occur as a direct result of roadway defects. With Florida Traffic Crash Facts reporting a total of 8,621 motorcycle crashes in 2011 alone, this would mean that more than 170 crashes were potentially caused by defective roads in our state that year.
As the infrastructure ages and roads become worn and damaged, it is likely that even more wrecks will occur as a result of road problems if steps are not taken to correct the issues and make the roads safer for everyone.
Road Defects Cause Motorcycle Crashes
There are many different types of road defects and problems with roads that can cause or contribute to motorcycle wrecks.
Some of the most common problems include:
- Potholes – Holes in the road where the pavement has worn away. A motorcycle that hits a pothole could lose control and/or the driver could be thrown.
- Uneven pavement, including dips and rivets – Motorcycles are less stable than traditional passenger vehicles and can quickly get out of control when encountering uneven pavement.
- Cracks in pavement – A large crack can also cause a motorcycle rider to lose control of the bike.
- Loose gravel – It is especially dangerous when the road shifts suddenly from pavement to loose gravel, or vice versa, since there are different riding techniques for different road surfaces.
- Steep roadside drop-offs – A motorcycle rider could easily fall off of drop-offs, especially if trying to weave in and out of cars, or if the motorcycle spins out of control as a result of other problems, such as potholes or pavement cracks.
- Road debris – A motorcyclist could encounter fallen trees or other objects on the roadway that cause him or her to lose control.
- Blocked road signs – Road signs, including traffic control signs, can become blocked as a result of overgrown vegetation or for many other reasons. Sometimes, road signs are simply placed improperly.
- Badly designed streets – Streets are sometimes too narrow or otherwise designed in a way that increases the chances of an accident occurring.
- Poorly lit streets – The absence of lights or street lamps may limit a motorcyclist’s ability to see when traveling at night time.
A motorcycle rider who encounters any of these hazards is at risk in many different ways. Not only is a single-vehicle wreck possible if the bike spins out of control, but the motorcyclist may also become involved in a crash from skidding into other cars.
A Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyer is Available to Help
Suing the government for any problem with a road can be very complicated because of the rules of sovereign immunity discussed above.
Injured victims will not only need to deal with these special issues but will also need to fulfill the other requirements of a personal injury claim arising from a motorcycle accident, such as establishing that the road defect caused the accident to occur.
At Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, we are here to help you. Our dedicated and knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyers can put our legal experience to work to represent you and seek maximum damages on your behalf. We serve clients throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast.
Give us a call today at 1-800-299-8878 or schedule a free consultation online to learn more about how we can assist you.
- Florida Traffic Crash Facts, 2011, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- Case-control study of motorcycle crashes, Monash Injury Research Institute
- Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, Gold Wing Touring Association
- Florida gets C- for infrastructure, Jacksonville Business Journal
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