A bicyclist who suffered a severe injury after his bicycle struck a pothole will receive a $6.5 million settlement from the City of Los Angeles, following lawmaker approval of a claims bill. The claims bill process involving public entities in L.A. is somewhat similar to how such matters are handled here in Florida, where damage caps per F.S. 768.28 allows for up to $200,000 per claim or $300,000 per occurrence, unless legislators pass a claims bill to allow for more.
According to the Los Angeles Times, plaintiff suffered severe and permanent brain damage when he encountered a pothole while on his bicycle. The impact tossed him from his bicycle, causing him to suffer several broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.
He alleged in his lawsuit that the street on which he crashed was poorly maintained, causing what was in essence a concealed trap for those on bicycles. Claimant presented evidence that he is likely to suffer some form of disability for the rest of his life. Members of city council agreed to approve the multi-million dollar settlement.
It’s not the first time the city has faced liability concerns over issues of road quality. Just this year, the city agreed to settle another case for $4.5 million after a 56-year-old man was killed after being tossed from his bike when he struck an uneven patch of pavement. In fact, over the course of the last budget year, the city has paid a total of $15 million in bicycle accident claims directly related to unsafe road conditions, the Times reported.
At the meeting wherein the latest $6.5 million settlement was approved, council members supported a separate motion that would mandate inspections of all major bicycle paths and lanes throughout the city, as well as the estimated costs for repair.
These types of incidents are expected to increase as infrastructure ages while simultaneously more people are taking up biking. Florida tops the list of the most dangerous places for bicyclists. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that while other states have found ways to significantly reduce the number of bicycle accidents over the last 30 years, Florida has only reduced its bicycle death toll by about 10 percent. The largest increase in death rates was seen among adults ages 35 to 54. This likely has to do with the fact that:
- Older people are increasingly taking up cycling;
- Older people may be more susceptible to injury when they are struck.
Males account for almost 90 percent of all bicycle deaths nationally. Part of Florida’s problem is that travel infrastructure here was largely built for motor vehicle traffic. Very little consideration has historically been given to bicyclists and pedestrians in engineering and road design and traffic enforcement.
Although most bicycle accident injury lawsuits are filed against negligent drivers who fail to yield or simply drive recklessly, government agencies can also be held liable when they fail to properly maintain streets – particularly if they are given notice of the potential risk or should have discovered it in the course of ordinary care and maintenance.
Consulting with an experienced injury attorney should give cyclists an idea of their legal options following a crash.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Los Angeles OKs $6.5 million to settle lawsuit after cyclist hit a pothole, Sept. 6, 2017, By Emily Alpert Reyes, The Los Angeles Times
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