A Brief Look at Potholes and Bicycle Accident Liability under California Law

Generally, California pothole type accidents with bicycles occur for one of two reasons:

1. Terrible temporary road fixes sink or crack soon after they are done;

2. Long-term wear and tear on the road causes surface breaks, and surface fatigue;

If the street pothole is the result of bad temporary repair work then it is possible a public or government entity is to blame (or at fault).  Now, whether the public entity performing the roadwork is responsible depends on whether it provided sufficient warning of the hazardous condition. Sufficient warning might include blocking off the repaired area, or placing warning signs or cones around the area.  The government has a duty to "warn the public at large" of any dangerous condition it is aware of or should be aware of if it did not fix a pot hole properly.

On the other hand, if the street pothole is the result of long-term wear and tear, the primary question as to whether the roadway agency was negligent (and therefore legally responsible) is how long the pothole has been present. If the surface break has been there for a few days, the public agency is usually not responsible for a bike accident caused by the pothole.  The logic here is the government entity did not have enough time to fix or warn of the danger. However, if the public agency leaves the pothole there for weeks or months, it may be responsible for bike accidents caused by the hazard as a direct result for its non-action. This is particularly true if previous bicycle accidents have occurred there and the public agency is aware of them.  Notice of prior bicycle accidents and injuries as a result of prior bike wrecks is good evidence of the government's willful failure or lack of coordination to get proper road repair work done, and this evidence can be discoverable through the filing of a California law suit.

Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Bicycle Accident Attorney, and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Pedestrian Injury Law Firm devoted to representing families of injured persons of automobile accidents. If you or someone you love, has been injured or killed in San Diego County, or Southern California, due to the negligence of another, please order your FREE copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information, insights, and secrets that will help you protect your legal rights.  It normally sells for $16.95; however, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in a California accident.