A bicyclist is suing the local city government where she was injured in a bicycle accident while on a bicycle trail last summer. The woman suffered a punctured lung and five broken ribs, according to the complaint.
According to the News and Sentinel, at the time of the incident, city workers from the small metro area in Ohio were reportedly washing the embankment and, to do so, pulled a fire hose across a bike path. However, they failed to issue any notification to users of the bike path that the path might be obstructed or to use caution. Plaintiff was riding her bike downhill when she suddenly struck the inflated hose filled with water. The hose, she would later say, wasn’t obvious to riders from a distance and she didn’t notice it until it was too late to stop. It was later noted by a member of council at a public meeting that this was the third such injury in three years that had been reported to the city involving these hoses, and, in the councilman’s own words, the hose should have been marked with the use of traffic cones, which he called, “just a basic standard rule of work.”
The issue was previously raised by the council member to trail committees, but there was no adequate response on the issue prior to this bicycle accident. In one of the memos he issued to the committee responsible for maintaining the path, he noted that the city is responsible for ensuring visitors and residents alike are safe, and there is “no excuse for people to get unnecessarily hurt.”
These types of claims, made against local city governments, can be challenging because the rules about filing a claim against a government entity are different than those that pertain to the typical defendant.
To begin, personal injury claims against government agencies in North Carolina must be filed with the Industrial Commission, rather than with the local district court. This may seem like a minor technical detail, but it’s an important one, especially if you are running up against a tight deadline. Notification and process server issues can be complex and you need to make sure you provide proper, timely notice of the claim to the correct authority.
One also needs to know exactly what type of claims are allowable. That’s because North Carolina statutes and case law have provided a strong foundation for sovereign immunity and governmental immunity that can prohibit the injured person from recovering damages for the alleged governmental body’s negligence or that of a government employee. The state has waived its immunity against certain tort claims to the extent provided in the North Carolina Tort Claims Act, though the state or other government entity could be brought into a tort action in court as a third party or third-party defendant. The tort claims law does allow recovery for injuries caused by negligence, so long as one can prove they were acting within the scope of their duties under circumstances that would subject the state to liability if it were a private individual. However, the act doesn’t waive the state’s immunity from claims that arise from state workers’ intentional misconduct.
The amount of damages one can collect in any single action stemming against the state is $1 million.
The majority of bicycle accident claims arise from collisions with motor vehicles, but this case shows there can be other circumstances too in which injury lawsuits can arise.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Injured bicyclist files lawsuit against Marietta, Jan. 17, 2017, By Peyton Neely, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
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Stinnett v. Kennedy – Wrongful Death of Previable Unborn Child to Proceed, Jan. 16, 2017, Winston-Salem Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog