Can Bicyclists in Florida Sue the Government for Road Hazard Accidents?
Bicycling is a popular activity in Florida for many residents and visitors. For some, they enjoy bicycling for the health benefits and spending time with family and friends. Others ride bikes to save money on transportation costs. Regardless of why you ride a bicycle, you have the same right as a motorist to expect the roads you use to be safe for riding. When the roads are not safe, accidents occur.
Road hazards and dangerous conditions can result in serious bicycle accidents. When this occurs, a government entity may be held liable for damages sustained by a bicyclist. Suing a government agency can be a daunting task, but it is possible. However, you may need assistance.
How Can We Help?
Our Florida attorneys have experience handling cases against the state, a county, or a local agency for road hazard accidents. We understand the special rules and laws applicable to lawsuits filed against the government. Let us do the hard work for you so that you can avoid the stress and frustration of dealing with a government entity but still receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Can the Government Be Sued?
Sovereign immunity protects most government entities from lawsuits and claims. Sovereign immunity prevents a person from filing a lawsuit against the state or a local municipality, its agencies, or its employees. However, Florida law waives immunity for tort claims that an individual would be liable for under similar circumstances.
Therefore, you may have a valid claim against a government agency for your bicycle accident. However, your compensation is capped at $200,000 per person or $300,000 per incident, and you must overcome the burden of proving negligence to prevail in your claim.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Florida or One of Its Agencies
When you file a lawsuit against the state of Florida or one of its agencies or local municipalities, you must be able to prove that the entity owed you a duty of care and it breached that duty.
The first step is determining who is responsible for the road. Most interstates and many highways fall under the care of the state while roads within the county or city limits fall to the local municipalities for care. However, some roads may be under the jurisdiction of more than one government entity. Your first step is to determine who is responsible for maintaining the section of road where your bicycle accident occurred. After you know who your claim is against, you must prove the entity was negligent.
Governments have a duty to citizens to provide safe roads. When the government breaches its duty of care, it can be held responsible for damages. However, you must prove the agency was negligent, and the negligence resulted in your injury.
Proving negligence can be difficult. You must prove the agency knew or should have known about the hazard, it could have repaired the hazard or remedied the condition, and it failed to take any action. If a defective road caused the bicycle accident, you must prove the agency allowed the road to be constructed in a way that created a dangerous defect that could have been prevented. In the alternative, the agency allowed the defect to continue even after it had knowledge of the defect.
The burden of proof is on you, and you will be fighting a team of government lawyers. It is best to have your own legal team standing beside you who can fight the battle with you. A team of legal professionals who understand the laws and have experience handling bicycle accidents caused by road hazards.
Common Road Hazards That Cause Bicycle Accidents
A bicycle accident caused by a dangerous road condition can result in thousands of dollars in damages. A lawsuit may be the only way to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, and other damages.
Common road conditions that can result in a bicycle crash include:
- Loose gravel, broken pavement, cracked surfaces
- Potholes and crumbling pavement
- Improper drainage
- Broken, missing, or obstructed road signs
- Improperly designed curves
- Inadequately maintained road shoulders
- Excessive foliage
- Lack of or damaged guardrails
If you are injured in a bicycle accident, we urge you to seek medical attention and contact our office for more information about filing a bicycle accident lawsuit.