How Road Maintenance Affects Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists are at greater risk than occupants of passenger vehicles for many reasons. The most significant and obvious is that motorcycle riders aren’t protected by a metal cage as those riding in cars, trucks, vans and SUVs are. So, a motorcyclist who is involved in a traffic crash may be thrown from the bike, dragged along the road, or slammed directly into another vehicle or a stationary object like a concrete barrier or a tree.
But, motorcyclists face another serious disadvantage: road conditions that would have little or no impact on a car or truck can be very dangerous for a biker. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some of these special hazards include:
- Potholes, which may cause damage to a passenger vehicle, but can cause a serious accident for a motorcyclist
- Asphalt sealer used to repair cracks in the road, lane-marking tape, and metal road components offer little traction
- Small road debris presents a more significant hazard for motorcyclists than for those in larger passenger vehicles
- Grooved surfaces in work zones may be uneven and create handling issues for motorcyclists
- Some road barriers intended to protect motorists may increase the risks for motorcyclist
Motorcyclists may also face serious risks from materials on the road that other drivers may not even notice, such as grass clippings, small patches of oil, or residue from salt or sand used to melt ice and provide traction in the winter months.
Reducing Risks for Motorcycle Riders
Many of these risks can be reduced with proper road maintenance. For example, promptly removing debris from highways reduces the likelihood that a motorcyclist will strike a small object in the road and lose control of the bike. And, good monitoring and repair practices can keep potholes to a minimum and ensure that the most serious hazards are addressed quickly.
Other issues require more extensive planning, design, and potentially even restructuring. For example, the exploration of alternative, non-slick substances and materials for road repairs and markings, or alternative designs for barriers that would protect those in passenger vehicles and motorcyclists.
The NHTSA has also suggested motorcycle-specific warning signs where biker-specific hazards are unavoidable. And, of course, motorcyclists themselves need to be aware of these risks and remain vigilant on the road.
Can a Motorcyclist Sue for a Road Hazard Injury?
Whether or not an injured motorcyclist is entitled to compensation based on faulty road design or maintenance will depend on a variety of factors. For example, if a motorcyclist is injured after hitting a piece of road debris that flew from a truck just a few minutes before, the entity responsible for road maintenance likely won’t be liable–it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect anyone to be instantly aware of any item that dropped onto the road and to clean it up within minutes. However, in that situation, the truck driver might be liable.
On the other hand, if a pothole has been a problem for weeks and multiple drivers reported the issue before the motorcyclist’s accident, the party responsible for repairing the road may be liable.
The best way to find out whether you may have a claim for damages is to talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. The attorney can also help you explore other possible responsible parties. Timing is particularly important if the accident was caused by a pothole, road construction conditions, or other hazards that will be altered or may be repaired. Important evidence may be lost if you wait too long to contact an attorney.
Another reason to act quickly is that road maintenance claims will typically involve governmental defendants. That may mean you have a much shorter time in which to give notice of a claim.
To learn more about your rights after a motorcycle accident and whether you may be entitled to compensation, call 978-459-3085 right now. Or, if you prefer, fill out the contact form on this site and we’ll get in touch with you.
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