Motorcycle Accidents Due to Improperly Maintained Road
Road defects can cause serious problems for motorcyclists. Although a passenger sedan might ride right over a pothole or uneven pavement, a motorcycle is less stable and therefore can be upended when they hit a road defect.
As a leading Toledo law firm, we receive many questions about motorcycle accidents. One common one is, “Can I sue if I wrecked because the roads were improperly maintained?” The answer is “yes,” but only if the defect was the result of a failure to be sufficiently careful, called “negligence.”
Some accidents happen on private roads, but most take place on public roads, which means you are trying to hold the government responsible. Suing the government for hazardous roads is not the same as suing the driver of a motor vehicle. You have more hoops to jump through, and the process can be confusing. Contact a Toledo motorcycle accident attorney today to get started.
Many different defects can be hazardous for a motorcyclist, including:
After an accident, the best thing you can do to help your case is to photograph the defect so that someone can see what upended your motorcycle. Use your smartphone if you have one or ask someone else to borrow theirs. You might need to return to the scene of the accident on another day to document the hazard, but it is best not to delay. Many accidents caused by improperly maintained roads are “single vehicle” crashes, so there might not be another vehicle involved.
Whether or not the defect was the result of negligence depends on the facts of your case. For example, not every pothole leads to a possible lawsuit. It matters how long the pothole was in the road, and whether the government had notice of the pothole and for how long. If the pothole just appeared a day before your crash, then it is not realistic to expect the government to fix it. However, if a giant pothole has existed for months, and people have complained, then the government probably had a duty to fix it.
Negligence is difficult to analyze. Rather than assume you don’t have a case, meet with a Toledo motorcycle accident attorney to go over the incident. Your lawyer might need to perform a preliminary investigation to learn more about the defect and how long it has existed.
Before you can bring a lawsuit, you need to identify the party responsible for keeping the road in good repair. Generally, roads are either public or private.
If you were injured on a private roadway, then Ohio’s premises liability law applies. You can bring a suit in court if the owner did not reasonably maintain the road and you were invited on the road or the owner knew you were riding on it.
However, if you were injured on a public roadway, then you might need to sue the local or state government that is responsible for maintenance. You must identify the agency that is responsible so that you can bring a claim in the right forum.
Some government agencies also hire private construction companies to perform road work. One of these private companies might be responsible if its negligence created a hazard that contributed to your crash. For example, a construction company that has left debris in the middle of the road has been careless.
The state of Ohio, administrative units, and local governments generally enjoy immunity from lawsuits. However, Ohio has created exceptions, one of which is for injuries caused by poor road maintenance. This is a relief, because it gives you a chance to receive compensation to cover your injuries.
Nevertheless, Ohio has made things a little tricky for citizens to successfully bring a suit. If you are suing the state, then you must file your suit in the Court of Claims. However, if you are suing a local government, then you will need to follow the procedures set by the locality—and there could be many.
It is easy for an injured motorcyclist to get confused about what steps they should take to protect their right to compensation. It is vitally important that you find the right court to sue in because Ohio’s statute of limitations gives you a short window of time to sue. If you miss this deadline, you cannot hold the government responsible.
Instead of guessing what you need to do to obtain compensation, why not hire a Toledo attorney who can represent you? At Groth & Associates, we can quickly identify who you need to sue and in which forum.
The purpose of suing is to receive monetary compensation, called “damages.” An injured biker can receive damages for certain economic losses, such as:
You’ll need to prove the amounts lost by using pay stubs, medical bills, receipts, and repair estimates. However, there is usually little dispute about the amount of economic loss our clients have suffered.
You can also receive compensation for certain non-economic losses. These are intangible injuries that are harder to put a price tag on:
In Ohio, there is no cap applied to economic losses. But the state has adopted a cap for non-economic damages, which is currently $250,000. This amount might be low, especially if you have suffered catastrophic injuries, like spinal cord damage and paralysis.
Getting a fair settlement from a government agency is never easy. Fortunately, our Toledo motorcycle accident lawyers understand how to bargain effectively on your behalf.
If a hazardous road has injured you while riding your bike, call Groth & Associates today. We can meet for a free, no-risk initial consultation.