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$3.2 Million Award for Philadelphia Bicyclist Injured by Sinkhole Highlights Government Liability in Personal Injury Lawsuits

gavel scales and law books

A Philadelphia jury has awarded a local man and his wife $3.2 million in compensation after he was injured in a bicycle accident caused by a sinkhole. According to the lawsuit, the man had been one of over 800 cyclists participating in the Phillies Charities Bike Ride in the city in May 2015. As he was approaching the finish line near Citizens Bank Park, a large sinkhole caused him to crash. Although the 55-year-old cyclists was wearing a helmet, the force of the crash knocked him unconscious. He also suffered multiple fractures and required implants in his spine.

In the lawsuit, the bicyclist alleged that the city, which is responsible for the maintenance of local roads and bike paths, knew about the sinkhole prior to the event and the accident. He also provided evidence showing that the sinkhole was visible on satellite images in October 2014, roughly 7 months before the race. The jury ultimately agreed that the city failed to address the known hazard, and awarded damages to both the cyclist and his wife.

Personal Injury Lawsuits & Government liability

The successful lawsuit filed by the Philadelphia bicyclist illustrates the importance of liability laws that hold at-fault parties accountable for causing preventable accidents and injuries. In many cases, these laws are applied to everyday private citizens who act negligently – such as when they cause car accidents or bicycle accidents as a result of traffic violations, distracted driving, or drunk driving – or commercial entities such as trucking companies and retail stores that fail to take reasonable measures in keeping the public safe.

Although defendants named in personal injury cases are typically individuals or corporations, they may sometimes also be government agencies, contractors that work for the government, local cities, or other entities within local government. These entities too can be held accountable for failing to address hazards they knew or should have known about, and failing to uphold legal obligations for maintaining public roads or areas in order to keep the public safe from preventable harm.

When cities or other government entities fail to uphold their legal duties, they can be liable when those unaddressed dangers lead to victims suffering preventable injuries. Examples of these cases may include:

  • Inadequate road maintenance (potholes, sinkholes, broken or defective signs and signals, etc.)
  • Poor bike path maintenance
  • Public transportation accidents
  • Roadway construction zone accidents
  • Accidents involving public utilities
  • Lawsuits filed against school districts or recreation programs
  • Slip and fall accidents at government buildings
  • Government employees who cause motor vehicle accidents on the job

Although victims have a right to seek damages following injuries caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of government entities, government liability cases adhere to different laws, including those established under the California Government Code (Section 815 - 818.9), which gives private parties the right to sue public entities and public employees. These lawsuits adhere to a unique set of rules and procedures, such as different elements of liability, statutes of limitations (allowing victims injured by government’s negligence only 6 months to file a claim, as well as 6 months to file a lawsuit following denial of that claim), and more – and they demand the attention of experienced attorneys.

Discuss Your Case with Proven Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers

At Biren Law Group, our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys have advocated on behalf of numerous injured victims and families throughout Southern California, including those harmed in bicycle accidents and other accidents caused by the negligence of private and public entities. We know the issues involved in these challenging cases, especially in highly populated urban areas where many cities and government agencies have responsibilities for the upkeep or public roads and resources.

Holding the government, municipal organizations, and public entities accountable for negligence and preventable injuries can be a daunting task, but it can be done effectively when qualified attorneys leverage extensive experience, resources, and insight into government liability claims to ensure public entities are held to similar standards of accountability. Not only do successful lawsuits help victims receive the compensation they need to cover their medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages, they are also critical to ensuring the government acts in accordance to the law, and does not endanger other citizens through preventable acts of negligence.

If you have questions about a bicycle accident or any preventable injury caused by government negligence, our legal team is available to help you learn more about your rights and whether you may have a valid claim. Contact us for a FREE and confidential consultation.