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Bicycle Accidents can be Caused by Dangerous Conditions on Private Property

While bicycle accidents between motor vehicles and bicyclists are certainly capable of causing serious injury, an issue that is discussed less involves bicycle accidents that are caused by dangerous conditions on private property. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 515,000 injuries related to bicycle accidents treated in emergency departments around the country during 2012. When bicyclists are involved in accidents, they can easily be thrown from their bikes, often resulting in serious bodily injury. In some instances, these accidents can be caused by a property owner’s negligence in the maintenance of his or her property. When this occurs, bicyclists are often able to successfully assert a legal claim against the party responsible for the property on which their injury occurred.

Examples of Dangerous Conditions that May Cause Bicycle Accidents

Under general premises liability principles, a property owner who makes his or her property available to the public has a duty to keep the premises free from any unreasonably dangerous conditions or warn guests as to the presence of such conditions. A common example of such a warning is “wet floor” sign that many of us have seen when visiting the grocery store after a spill or during routine floor maintenance. Of course, most bicycling is done outdoors, so the types of hazardous conditions that often cause bicycle accidents will be generally be found in parking lots, driveways, walkways, or dedicated bicycle paths. Some of the more common types of hazards that can cause bicycle accidents include:

  • Accumulations of ice or snow – While winter weather conditions are relatively rare in Georgia, they do occasionally occur. Snow or ice can wreak havoc on pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists alike, often resulting in serious injury-causing accidents. In certain cases, a bicyclist who is involved in an accident because of ice or snow on public property may be able to recover for his or her injuries and other losses.
  • Potholes – When bicyclists hit a pothole at any significant speed, they can easily be thrown forward over their handlebars and onto the ground or into another object. Because they are falling forward, pothole-caused accidents can easily result in serious head, neck, or face injuries, including traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries.
  • Unmarked cables or utility fixtures – Private properties often have various utility fixtures and equipment providing services to structures present upon the property. If these items are hidden or obscured in a place where a bicyclist may reasonable travel, they can easily cause serious accidents.
  • Cracked or uneven pavement – Similarly to potholes, hitting a crack or uneven piece of pavement has the potential to throw a bicyclist off of his or her bike. The presence of these conditions may indicate negligent maintenance on the part of a property owner.

As with other types of premises liability cases, the determinative question for the purposes of establishing legal liability in many bicycle accident cases is whether the actions of the property owner were reasonable under the circumstances. This is often an extremely fact-specific question and requires significant legal analysis, which is best handled by an experienced personal injury lawyer.