Road debris can be the cause of accidents to both vehicles and cyclists. However, for a cyclist road debris poses a very dangerous threat. Often a motor vehicle can simply run over the road debris. Cyclists don’t always get that choice. Riding in bike lanes, paths, or roadway shoulders can present an extra ordinary danger of bicycle accidents caused by road debris. It only takes a bit of glass, a stray piece of lumber or branches, an old piece of car tire lying in the way and the cyclist will need to react quickly. Jetting out into the lane of traffic to avoid road debris is certainly legal in Arizona and most states, however it isn’t always a good idea or safe depending on the flow of traffic. 40% of all fatal bike accidents in 2012 were caused by rear end collisions. Its easy to see why cyclists are not always comfortable jetting out into traffic for fear of being hit by a car from behind.
Simply running over the road debris may be the only option cyclists practically posses. This can cause flat tires, bent wheels, or direct impact wrecks. Some debris can’t be run over or even the classic “bunny hop” isn’t always an option.
For example, a cyclist was recently cycling in a group on a night time ride in Arizona. Suddenly the group came upon a shopping cart. Needles to say not all of the cyclists were able to dodge the shopping cart in time and one of the cyclist had direct impact and crashed extremely hard. Several surgeries and a couple of years later and the cyclist’ elbow is still not fully recovered. The shopping cart was miles away from any identifiable store, and the cart itself was old enough to be stripped of any identifying marks. Whoever left the cart in the bike path was already long gone, the cart could have been there for days by the time the cyclist hit it.
A bicycle accident caused by road debris can happen with anything in the road that is unsafe for a cyclist to come into direct impact with, not just a shopping cart. The tricky issue is finding someone who is responsible for leaving the debris in the road. Finding negligence is the key to finding any sort of financial recovery.
In almost all bicycle accident cases, including claims stemming from crashes involving road hazards, figuring out who to blame — and who will be responsible for damages — will depend on who was negligent. In order for an injured cyclist to prevail on a claim of negligence after an accident involving a road hazard like debris, two important elements must be shown:
1) Someone else breached a duty of care that was owed to the injured cyclist, and
2) The breach of care caused the injured cyclist’ damages.
In a bicycle accident case involving road hazards, the negligent party could be a government agency (i.e. responsible for maintaining the road), or a private party (such as a trucking company that is obligated to secure and transport cargo in a reasonably safe manner).
Private Party Negligence – Road Debris, I.e. Private Trucking Company Not Properly Securing Cargo
Looking first at the private party example, when a bike accident is caused by a road hazard or road debris created by a private party’s negligence (truck cargo falling onto a roadway or into the bike path), all of the facts must be closely examined in order to determine who is liable.
For example, if a vehicle is hauling cargo that would present a serious road hazard if it were to become unsecured and fall onto the highway/bike lane (i.e. pipes, landscaping limbs, construction materials, etc.), the driver of the transporting vehicle owes a duty to cyclists who also use the road to take reasonable precautions to keep the cargo secure. This would include driving in a manner that will keep the cargo from falling onto the roadway or bike lane.
It gets interesting if the same driver is an employee who is transporting cargo for an employer, (like a transportation company or retail distributor), then there is the issue of employer liability for the bicycle accident, under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior. This rule of liability holds an employer liable for the harmful acts (torts) committed by employees who are acting within the normal course of employment. The reason this gets interesting is that while drivers may only carrier minimum insurance limits their employers may carry higher insurance limits making the cyclist’s chances of recovery far greater. In order to be successful here the cyclist must show that the negligent tort was actually committed during the scope of employment, rather than during a purely personal activity on the part of the employee.
Government Entity Negligence – Road Debris, I.e. Government Not Properly Maintaining the Roadways and Bike Paths
If the government is responsible then prepare for a very strict set of rules and procedures as well as a pretty lengthy case. Any negligence claim against a governmental entity can be a difficult process. Visit the Government Entity Bike Accident Page for more details.
Ben Dodge of Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC has experience litigating claims against governmental entities and scheduling a complimentary consult to better understand your rights and your case is highly recommended.
Arizona Bicycle Accident Attorney Ben Dodge
If you, or someone you know were injured in a bicycle accident caused by road debris, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben Dodge, a licensed bicycle accident lawyer in Arizona, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles.
Ben Dodge has represented and assisted bicycle accident victims across the entire United States. As an avid and competitive cyclist himself, Mr. Dodge currently participates in national and local cycling events all over the country. It isn’t uncommon to spot him in early morning hours out riding his bike. The day he fell in love with his job was the day he devoted himself completely to bicycle accident cases.
A Consultation With Experienced Arizona Bicycle Accident Attorney Ben Dodge is Free
In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the United States every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
Ben Dodge always offers a complimentary in person consultation to all local cyclists and a complimentary phone consultation to any cyclist injured in a bike accident. Typically the consultations are schedule from 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of the accident. You can expect to get answers to questions, clarity, information, and reassurance of your personal bike accident liability and potential for recovery. In your free consultation you can generally expect to discuss such topics as:
- Your specific bike accident details, diagrams, and pictures from your perspective and then from the perspective of your bike accident attorney.
- The applicable local, state, and federal laws underlying your case.
- Your cyclist’s rights, obligations, and any potential liability.
- The process, procedure (in and out of court), and the time frame required to conclude your case.
- The value of your case and what you might expect as compensation.
You can call Arizona bicycle lawyer Ben Dodge of Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC at 1.855.663.3922 (855.ONE.EZ.CALL). Mr. Dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Mr. Dodge will personally return your call within 24 hours. There is never an obligation for a complimentary consultation with Mr. Dodge. His passion is in representing cyclists and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness and patience.
Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 480.656.8334.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
His Main Offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (Home Base Office)
4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
Mesa, Arizona 85206
Phoenix Arizona Office
2415 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Salt Lake City Utah Office
299 South Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
St. George Utah Office
321 N. Mall Drive, Suite 103
St. George, Utah 84790
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire State of Arizona including but not limited to Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Gilbert, Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Surprise, Kingman, Page, Lake Havasu City, Payson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Queen Creek, Paradise Valley, Show Low, Winslow, Maricopa, Nogales, Globe, Avondale, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Carefree, Wickenburg, Pinetop-Lakeside, Strawberry, Anthem, Safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and can assist in representation in all 50 states. He has helped cyclists in New York, Texas, California, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.