When the driver of a motor vehicle encounters a pothole, it’s almost always an insignificant bump. If a bicyclist encounters one, it could result in severe injuries or even death. Potholes will be found on both private property and public roadways. For purposes of a bicyclist who was injured in a crash that was caused by a pothole, two different procedures must be followed, depending wither the pothole was on private property or public property. In either case, the law of premises liability applies.

Premises Liability

The law of premises liability is followed when injuries are caused by a dangerous condition on property that is owned or occupied by somebody other than the injured victim. In bicycle accidents that are caused by potholes, just about all of the accidents occur either on commercial property or public roadways. Here’s what a bicyclist who was the victim of a pothole crash must prove:

  • There was a pothole that was sufficiently deep and long enough to be considered dangerous.
  • The entity that owned or occupied the property either knew or should have known of the existence of the pothole and that cyclists would ride on their property.
  • The entity was in control of the premises where the pothole was located and could have repaired it.
  • The pothole caused the claimant bicyclist to crash and suffer injuries.

Claims Against the State of California or Governmental Entities

If the pothole was located on a public roadway that was controlled by a governmental entity, a notice of claim is required to be served on the entity’s agent within six months of the date of the crash. The governmental entity then has 45 days to respond. The overwhelming majority of such claims are rejected.

That would leave a lawsuit as the only remaining avenue of possible compensation for a bicyclist’s injuries. Any personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. Failure to timely and properly serve a conforming notice of claim on a governmental entity in California is cause for dismissal of a lawsuit.

Most pothole bicycle accident cases turn on who was in control of where the pothole was located, whether the appropriate entity had notice of its existence and what measures, if any, it took to either warn the bicyclist of its existence or repair it. Proving liability in any premises liability case is a complicated endeavor. There are many defenses. An injured bicyclist can expect the responsible entity to try and push off some or all of the liability for the accident over onto him or her.

Contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law

Los Angeles Bicycle Law represents bicyclists because we are bicyclists. We know first-hand how rewarding, yet dangerous, cycling can be in the Los Angeles area. Even though the law treats bicyclists with the responsibilities and rights of a motor vehicle, the road itself offers far fewer protections. That is why we actively fight to protect bicyclists in our community. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles, contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law today.