Willens Law Offices Articles Bicycle Accidents Caused by Road Hazards

Bicycle Accidents Caused by Road Hazards

By Matthew Willens  May. 20, 2015 2:54p

Bicycles are particularly prone to accidents caused by road hazards due to their thin tires and relative instability.

Any abrupt changes in the road surface can cause even the most experienced bicyclist to lose control, fall, or enter the path of an oncoming motor vehicle. Common road hazards that may lead to bicycle accidents are sewer grates, potholes, and railroad tracks.

If a bicycle accident is caused by a road hazard, the liable party may be the city, state, country, or other agency that is responsible for the maintenance of the road. The validity of your claim will depend on the type of road hazard and what the state agencies could have done to prevent it. Here are the most common road hazards that lead to bicycle accidents and whether or not you can claim damages.


Potholes occur because of the long-term wear and tear that causes the surface to break or because of temporary road fixes that crack or sink shortly after they are done. If a pothole that caused the accident was a result of wear and tear, the liability would depend on how long the pothole has been there. If the pothole had been preset for weeks or even months and the city or state failed to repair it, they may be held liable for the resulting bicycle accident.

If a pothole is a result of shoddy repair work, the liability would depend on whether the responsible agency provided adequate warning about the hazardous road condition. If proper warning signs were posted or that section of road was blocked off, they cannot be held liable.

Sewer Grates

Sewer grates pose a serious threat to bicyclists. If the bars are placed in the same direction as traffic, the thin tires of the bicycle can easily get stuck in them. Even though most sewer grates now come with safety bars or have a different shape, there are still many sewer grates that can cause accidents. If a cyclist is injured because of the sewer grates, the cyclist can argue that he or she has the right to safe roads and the sewer grate poses a visible threat, but the agencies failed to take care of it.

Trolley or Railway Tracks

There are many abandoned railroad tracks all over the United States that can present a hazard to cyclists. A cyclist can become caught between the track and the roadway. If the position of the rail track is particularly dangerous and the public agency has done nothing to reduce the hazard and failed to provide proper warning signs to the cyclists, they may be held liable for the accident.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a bicycle accident caused by a road hazard, contact a Willens personal injury law firm Chicago from The Willens Law Offices for legal counsel.

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