Potholes are bad for motorists and can be devastating and even deadly for cyclists. Currently, the city has a backlog of requested pothole repairs which isn’t sitting well with cyclist groups. The Bicycle Coalition estimates that between paving needs and pothole repair, the city is about 1,000 miles behind and needs to do 130 miles annually just to keep even. This doesn’t bode well for cyclists and motorcycle riders who are move vulnerable to a pothole crash.
In May 2018, a 23-year-old man died when he hit a pothole on I-95 in Philadelphia. The rider was traveling northbound under the Ben Franklin bridge when he hit a pothole and then hit a guardrail and was ejected from his bike.
He was transported to the hospital but later died from severe head injuries. PennDot admits that they had several complaints about potholes on that stretch of the freeway, but their crews hadn’t fixed them yet because of the backlog.
By law, anyone who negligently causes another’s injury is responsible for all damages. That it unless the other person is the state of Pennsylvania. Like each government entity in the U.S., the state of Pennsylvania has sovereign immunity which protects them from lawsuits for negligence.
Also, like other states, Pennsylvania passed a law years ago called the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, which grants exceptions to certain claims making it theoretically possible for a claim to be made for pothole damage. The only problem is, out of over 3,000 claimes filed since 2013, PennDot has paid zero in compensation.
The law does give someone the right to file a pothole claim themselves, but that law only allows claims if the city or state new of the problem and didn’t fix it for an “egregious” amount of time. How long is egregious? That’s an unknown, but when left to the PennDot claims officials, so far it’s never happened.
If you’ve been injured by a pothole while riding your bike or motorcycle, you need to talk to a lawyer about your case. It’s unlikely that you will get satisfaction from filing a claim yourself to PennDot, but a lawyer will have a better chance of evaluating if a lawsuit is possible.
After any accident involving a serious injury, contact a highly rated Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyer such as Edith Pearce. Unlike the huge firms with dozens of attorneys and many different attorneys handling different aspects of your case, Edith Pearce is personally involved in every case that we handle. She genuinely cares about her clients and you will not be treated like just another case or file.