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  1. #1
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    biker sues over pot hole

    I just read this article in my local paper. It seems some guy was riding at night, hit a pothole, went OTB and sustained some injuries. Now he wants to sue the DOT over it.

    http://bozemandailychronicle.com/art...les.bzbigs.txt

    My initial reaction was to write a letter to the editor in hopes of sharing my opinion that this is another case of someone not accepting responsibility for his own actions. Then I thought it would be interesting to hear some of your opinions on the matter. The article says he was using a headlight but I suspect it was one of those little AA-powered minilights and not very bright. Anyway, Main St does have street lights and it's no secret that there's pothole in our roads. I think this dude should have been aware of the potential hazard and should take his lumps like a man. Instead I'm afraid his suit will ruffle the feathers of those folks who already have a grudge against bikers.

  2. #2
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    Jeez, How fast was this guy going..

    He detached his retina!!
    I've crashed plenty of times on pavement and trails and I've never detached a retina.
    Sounds like he just wants some disability payments.
    The bad part is he will probably win.
    The Juice Was Worth The Squeeze!!!

  3. #3
    Seriously ?
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    You know, in my country (Brasil) we have the extreme oposite of this kind of situation. The government often leaves streets and roads in poor condition and it is virtually impossible to get it to take responsibility for that when your vehicle gets damaged. After all, people are paying a lot of taxes for that purpose.

    Here you sure see a lot of people filing frivolous lawsuits because they either refuse to take responsibility for their acts and/or they may believe it is an "easy" to way to get some money.

    I think the cyclist in this case may be right. Even though you must take responsibility for riding your bicicle it the the responsibility of the government to maintain the streets properly. A pothole in a street should not be considered a "natural hazard" especially when you pay taxes to ensure it gets proper maintenance. It is not a clear cut issue, but if the pot hole has been there for some time than the government is at fault.

    (edited)

    Gui

  4. #4
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    What kind of headlight

    I would be interested in knowing what kind of headlight he was using. If it was a good light, he should have been able to see the hole. Also, how fast was he going. Chances are, he had some cheap light that is intended to be used in the neighborhood or had half dead batteries.

    Should he be able to sue, I don't know. Maybe if he does, the DOT will start fixing potholes. I can usually avoid most of the pot holes that are on my routes without any difficulty. There are a few though that I have to go almost to the centerline to avoid. that makes it very dangerous for a cyclist and if someone is hurt because the DOT doesn't want to fix them, then maybe they should be liable for the damages.

  5. #5
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    I have to agree with Spiff. Lawsuits are not merely tools for individuals to receive compensation for injuries caused by someone else's actions. Lawsuits create incentives for governments and other entities to be more responsive to the needs of persons that are ignored by the government or marginalized in some way.

    Bicyclists are sometimes ignored by transportation agencies and road departments when they make requests for road improvements or other accomodations. Potholes that don't pose huge risks to autos are very dangerous to cyclists, as this circumstance demonstrates. Although this particular person may get compensation, which you see as unfair and frivilous, it will make the government more proactive when it comes to making sure roads are safe for cyclists. The incentive is to avoid future lawsuits. This benefits not only the person injured, but protects cyclists down the road.

    Furthermore, depending on the laws in the jurisdiction where this occurred, the cyclist may be held partially responsible if he acted negligently. The govenrment can be ordered pay the part of the injury it is deemed responsible for. Litigation is not a winner take all proposition - the cyclist may pay for the part of the accident he contributed to, but the road department is not left off the hook if it failed to make repairs it should have.
    Last edited by lawhoo; 03-26-2004 at 06:30 PM.

  6. #6
    bi-winning
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    We the people ... Mixed feelings...

    Quote Originally Posted by dir-T
    I just read this article in my local paper. It seems some guy was riding at night, hit a pothole, went OTB and sustained some injuries. Now he wants to sue the DOT over it.

    http://bozemandailychronicle.com/art...les.bzbigs.txt

    My initial reaction was to write a letter to the editor in hopes of sharing my opinion that this is another case of someone not accepting responsibility for his own actions. Then I thought it would be interesting to hear some of your opinions on the matter. The article says he was using a headlight but I suspect it was one of those little AA-powered minilights and not very bright. Anyway, Main St does have street lights and it's no secret that there's pothole in our roads. I think this dude should have been aware of the potential hazard and should take his lumps like a man. Instead I'm afraid his suit will ruffle the feathers of those folks who already have a grudge against bikers.
    I have mixed feelings towards this incident. At first sight i thought, what a looser this guy must be. He needs to learn to ride a bike. But then i thought, if that was me, how would i feel about it. I would obviously be upset, and would want to blame sombody I seriously question the whole thing. He has a headlight (probably a junk one, but anyways) and there are street lights, why did he not see the damage to the road? was he looking somwhere else? Was his mind wandering? I dunno. yes the roads should be maintained, but is it right to blame the road for the accident? I am not so sure that it is. If the guy knew the area at all, he should have realized that the roads are not going to be perfect, and therefore be prepared and take the appropriate safety measures. Example, if it is snowing outside, and you get into a car accident, do you blame the accident on the fact that the roads are slippery and not yet salted? I dont think so. It is your fault for not driving carefully enough. Sure maybee this is a little bit different, but anyways...

    After thinking about it, in my opinion the DOT should not be responsible for this incident. However, maybee they should fix this flaw in the road

  7. #7
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    If the street was poorly maintained and unsafe, then I would say that the suit is justified. I know someone who wiped out on a motorcycle riding over a train crossing and broke his leg. He sued the City (Kitchener, Ont, Canada) and the judge agreed with him that the road was neither properly maintained or safe.

    If you drove your car over a bridge and the bridge collapsed, and it was found that the bridge was not properly constructed/inspected/maintained, how would you feel? As Monty Burns' lawyer above pointed out, it puts the onus on those in authority to make sure that things are properly kept up and maintained. Mind you, there will always be ambulance-chases out there trying to make a buck out of this. D.
    You be you. I'll be riding.

  8. #8
    JmZ
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    Heck..

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan!
    If the street was poorly maintained and unsafe, then I would say that the suit is justified. I know someone who wiped out on a motorcycle riding over a train crossing and broke his leg. He sued the City (Kitchener, Ont, Canada) and the judge agreed with him that the road was neither properly maintained or safe.

    If you drove your car over a bridge and the bridge collapsed, and it was found that the bridge was not properly constructed/inspected/maintained, how would you feel? As Monty Burns' lawyer above pointed out, it puts the onus on those in authority to make sure that things are properly kept up and maintained. Mind you, there will always be ambulance-chases out there trying to make a buck out of this. D.
    Driving out here in the midwest the potholes are enough to eat car wheels.

    There have been complaints and some people trying to get money from the city because they blew a tire, flat spotted a rim, or ruined a suspension due to the potholes.

    My wife flat spotted a rim on the car a few years back. Had to replace the wheel, tire was a slow leak. She was lucky, someone later in the day rolled their car from blowing a tire on the same pothole.

    So... take responsibility for your own faults, but if it aint, make the bugger pay.

    JmZ
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

  9. #9
    ballbuster
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    Yeah, he should have that right...

    but hopefully he will loose big. That is, unless the city was totally at fault, which would be really tough to prove. I mean, really! Everybody knows that if you ride, especially at night, you need to be able to see. If you can't you should not be riding, right? If there is any justice in the world, he will loose, and big. He will be on the hook for some fat lawyer fees, and court costs. Hopefully, he will have that embarassing story to follow him around for the rest of his life as well.

    If he ran into a parked car, he would not be able to blame the owner.

  10. #10
    ballbuster
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    well, yeah, but...

    ... a bridge is expected to not collapse while you're on it. That is a reasonable expectation. On a more gray-area real world analogy, recently Highway 680 not too far from where I live, buckled really badly. It was so bad that there were strings of cars on the side of the road with busted wheels and suspension. CalTrans was fully liable, because they failed to meet that expectation that the road was safe to drive, and there was no reasonable way to avoid the hole in the road in time to do someting about it.

    Now if there was a sinkhole in the road that suddenly gave way under the cyclist, sending him into it with a tacoed (or worse, a Pac Manned) wheel, then I would feel for him.

    OTOH, we know nothing about this case yet, other than biker at night stacks in a pothole and sues. The media has a tendency to make stories bigger than they are by leaving out important details.

  11. #11
    Sweat is just fat crying.
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    I can't tell you how many times...

    Quote Originally Posted by dir-T
    I just read this article in my local paper. It seems some guy was riding at night, hit a pothole, went OTB and sustained some injuries. Now he wants to sue the DOT over it.

    http://bozemandailychronicle.com/art...les.bzbigs.txt

    My initial reaction was to write a letter to the editor in hopes of sharing my opinion that this is another case of someone not accepting responsibility for his own actions. Then I thought it would be interesting to hear some of your opinions on the matter. The article says he was using a headlight but I suspect it was one of those little AA-powered minilights and not very bright. Anyway, Main St does have street lights and it's no secret that there's pothole in our roads. I think this dude should have been aware of the potential hazard and should take his lumps like a man. Instead I'm afraid his suit will ruffle the feathers of those folks who already have a grudge against bikers.
    ...I've always wanted to do a guerilla-type pothole fix- just go to Orchard Supply, grab a bag of cement, take it to the fricking hole I've had to swerve into traffic to avoid and dump it in and pee on it to set it.

    I think we should take these matters into our own hands and not wait for city workers or CalTrans to come out & fix them. Then send City Hall a bill.

    fp <----- too early to think clearly.
    Mountain Biking Is Not A Crime stickers, free! (You pay postage. PM me for details.)

  12. #12
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    In Maine the department of transportation has 24 hours to repair a dangerous pothole once it has been reported. If someone injures their vehicle or themselves the town/city/state can be held accountable. It is the transportation departments job to keep the roads in good condition. What do you think those millions of dollars of taxes collected for that purpose are for?

    As for suing...I would too if it was the fault of the municipality(and they refused to cover the bill) and not an over zealous bike rider.

  13. #13
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    Cold patch

    Quote Originally Posted by Finch Platte
    ...I've always wanted to do a guerilla-type pothole fix- just go to Orchard Supply, grab a bag of cement, take it to the fricking hole I've had to swerve into traffic to avoid and dump it in and pee on it to set it.
    People have done that on our Tuesday night loop. Go to the Home Depot and get a bag of cold patch asphalt and fix it.

  14. #14
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    assumption of risk...

    When you get on a bicycle, there is an assumption of risk. There will be potholes, there will be debris, there will be obstacles or other hazards.

    If he can prove willfull neglect, then he may be entitled to some compensation. Depending on state and local laws, he may not have any case due to tort immunity.

    The article does not stipulate the road conditions, a single "crack" in the road is what I would consider a normal hazard. If the road had excessive surface hazards from neglect, then I would agree he may be entitled to some compensation. There is not enough informaiton in this case to make any determination of the suitability of the road or the capability of the rider.

    Municipalities should take actions to repair road surfaces and make them safe for all vehicles, and they should be liable for any willfull neglect. But I also feel that there are some people who should not be riding bicycles because of the lack of coordination.

    G

  15. #15
    ballbuster
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    heh, on that note....

    Quote Originally Posted by mtpisgah
    People have done that on our Tuesday night loop. Go to the Home Depot and get a bag of cold patch asphalt and fix it.
    I live on a small street in Oakland, and we have requested a speed bump to slow down the knuckleheads who tear down our little narrow road. The city has refused to deploy one, citing no evidence that there is a problem. Basically, somebody has to get hurt before they will look into it.

    The neighbors and I were saying we oughta just do it ourselves before somebody looses a pet or child. Yeah, about 20 bags of cold set, maybe some rebar, some reflective paint, and signs...

  16. #16
    Seriously ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot
    I Basically, somebody has to get hurt before they will look into it.

    That is also valid to get pot holes fixed, not only small narrow streets.

    Gui

  17. #17
    They turned me loose
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    Buy the ticket take the ride

    This will only worsen things for bicycle commuters. Not only that, but it further skews the American image for foreigners. This incident is merely a penny in the fountain compared to the mass media hype that previous "lawsuits" have portrayed. Hot coffee rings a bell. It's ridiculous to me that an individual can place blame on others for pain and suffering he has/had control over. Risks are a daily companion for the human being. To me it's a basic brain function that we accept and know how to manage. When you over step the boundaries, you can get hurt. The facts are not given in the article. Big deal, it boils down to riding your bike and falling off. We all take chances when we ride in the woods/road, we fall, we get hurt, but we don't sue the land managers or (HA!) the DOT, we take responsibility for it, and I think I speak for the majority. I hit potholes the size of small craters. Blown out tires and un-aligned vehicles are a common occurnece in my town. Maybe we should give the bills to the DOT? I'd like to think of my fellow American's as ethical and morally responsible for themselves, but I get shot down when I read this garbage. I tend to over analyze the big picture when little pissant stories like this surface. In the end, I really don't care, I need some coffee....

    Quote Originally Posted by dir-T
    I just read this article in my local paper. It seems some guy was riding at night, hit a pothole, went OTB and sustained some injuries. Now he wants to sue the DOT over it.

    http://bozemandailychronicle.com/art...les.bzbigs.txt

    My initial reaction was to write a letter to the editor in hopes of sharing my opinion that this is another case of someone not accepting responsibility for his own actions. Then I thought it would be interesting to hear some of your opinions on the matter. The article says he was using a headlight but I suspect it was one of those little AA-powered minilights and not very bright. Anyway, Main St does have street lights and it's no secret that there's pothole in our roads. I think this dude should have been aware of the potential hazard and should take his lumps like a man. Instead I'm afraid his suit will ruffle the feathers of those folks who already have a grudge against bikers.

  18. #18
    Your Customer Sales Rep
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDude
    I hit potholes the size of small craters. Blown out tires and un-aligned vehicles are a common occurnece in my town.
    Wow ... I guess if your expectations are low enough, Third World governance will satisfy some people. Next thing y'know folks will start demanding proper sewage, clean running water ("we get turds in our tap water, so sue me") and reliable electricity supply ("we get rotating blackouts, so live with it") for their tax dollars. D.
    You be you. I'll be riding.

  19. #19
    They turned me loose
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    Nothing to do with expectations

    I appreciate the fact that I have sewage, clean running water and reliable electricity. I also appreciate ketchup on my fries and good beer to drink. Most people overlook the "simple" amenties they use each day and simply "expect" them as you put it. I'm not a bleeding heart but damn, when the roads freeze 6 months of the year, potholes happen. Didn't this guy know that? Whatever happened to the saying shite happens? I rarely get into forum discussions. Points are taken wrong etc, so I hope I read your reply correctly.


    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan!
    Wow ... I guess if your expectations are low enough, Third World governance will satisfy some people. Next thing y'know folks will start demanding proper sewage, clean running water and reliable electricity supply for their tax dollars. D.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDude
    Most people overlook the "simple" amenties they use each day and simply "expect" them as you put it. I'm not a bleeding heart but damn, when the roads freeze 6 months of the year, potholes happen. Didn't this guy know that? Whatever happened to the saying shite happens? I rarely get into forum discussions. Points are taken wrong etc, so I hope I read your reply correctly.
    Don't take Forum discussions personally, so no problem. I know potholes happen, but potholes can be fixed. So the question is what sort of service do people expect from those charged (and paid tax dollars for) looking after the roads? If someone thinks that potholes which endanger public safety should be dealt with quickly, are they being unreasonable? (Not referring specifically to the cyclist here, not enough info there). Also note that a pothole that gives a car a bent axle could kill, for example, a motorcyclist. (Someone else on the board mentioned a pothole that caused a rollover). Where do you draw the line where should people shut up, just suck it up and move on? D.
    You be you. I'll be riding.

  21. #21
    They turned me loose
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    Good question, and one that I cannot answer. Where I draw the line might not be where you or anyone else draws the line. So I'll send it back to you........ what's your answer to that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan!
    Don't take Forum discussions personally, so no problem. I know potholes happen, but potholes can be fixed. So the question is what sort of service do people expect from those charged (and paid tax dollars for) looking after the roads? If someone thinks that potholes which endanger public safety should be dealt with quickly, are they being unreasonable? (Not referring specifically to the cyclist here, not enough info there). Also note that a pothole that gives a car a bent axle could kill, for example, a motorcyclist. (Someone else on the board mentioned a pothole that caused a rollover). Where do you draw the line where should people shut up, just suck it up and move on? D.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDude
    Good question, and one that I cannot answer. Where I draw the line might not be where you or anyone else draws the line. So I'll send it back to you........ what's your answer to that?
    I don't know what the answer is ... but that's the question you get to ask a judge and jury (in light of evidence) when you take the case to court, as will some guy and Boseman, Montana. As I said before, my buddy who broke his leg wiping out on his motorcycle won his case after the judge ruled that the city had been negligent in not taking reasonable steps to make the crossing safe. (The railroad crossing he wiped out on was actually several sets of tracks going into a distillery the right smack in center of town - not somewhere in the out-of-the-way boonies). D.
    You be you. I'll be riding.

  23. #23
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    If the hole was somehow unavoidable...

    There may be something like the motorcycle/railroad issue.
    Bicycle speed, and the light are the rider's responsibility in my view. The road is reasonably wider than what a bike needs. Traffic and such are unknown from the info given.
    Road maintainance is the DOTs responsibility. The repairs should be made ASAP after being reported. If the hole was there the next day after being reported (by a cyclist or anyone else), DOT should be responsible. Finding that a report of the hole had been made might sway things to the cyclist.
    Like others state: we don't know all the details.

  24. #24
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    wow, I hate how everyone in American is always sueing someone, makes it hard to get landowners to approve of bike trails. . . we need to care less about money, or not allow people to sue for so much, like in Canada you can only sue for like 75,000. So after all the lawyers and whatnot there is no profit. Some asses in america Sue for Sport.
    Pirates are the S

  25. #25
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    lifetime warranty

    oops, this message went to the wrong discussion

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