Most bicycle accidents occur because of a driver or cyclist’s negligence. In some cases, though, a bicycle accident is inevitable, but not because anything the cyclist or surrounding drivers do; instead, these types of bicycle accidents occur because of the dangerous condition of roads or trails. When an unsafe trail or road condition causes a bike accident, the government (or government entity) may be held liable.
Duty to Maintain Trails and Roads
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation handles maintaining roads throughout the state, and many municipalities handle maintaining the trails and parks within its jurisdiction.
Learn the safe PA bike paths and trails.
Maintenance means to ensure that the road, trail, or park is reasonably free from any known hazards. It also involves taking precautions to notify bikers of any obvious hazards if immediate repair is not possible.
The government is responsible for these things.
- Keeping roads/trails free from fallen trees and debris
- Fixing potholes
- Repaving broken parts of the road
- Posting a notice of ongoing construction projects
- Repairing washed out trails
How does government liability work?
Filing a claim against the government is much more complicated than is filing a claim against an individual or business. That’s because the government is protected by sovereign immunity laws, which limits liability. If a claim against the government is possible, then notice of that claim must be filed within six months rather than the standard two-year statute of limitations.
The following are exempt from sovereign immunity laws.
- “Dangerous conditions” (ask a bike accident lawyer about this)
In other words, you can pursue a claim for damages caused by these hazard types, as the government does have a legal duty to correct/maintain them.
What’s more, many municipalities are also protected under the Recreational Use Act, which limits the liability of landowners who own property that’s intended for recreational use (like a trail). This law states that if a fee is not charged, the property owner does not have a duty to keep their land free of hazards nor warn of dangerous conditions.
How an Attorney Can Help
Because of the complicated nature of claims against government entities, it is always in your best interest to hire an attorney if you’ve been injured in a bike accident on a government-maintained trail. Cordisco & Saile LLC, can help you to determine whether or not your claim falls under the Recreational Use Act or sovereign immunity laws and what types of damages you may be entitled. To learn more, contact the office now at 215-642-2335.