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City's street resurfacing project caused bicyclist's serious injuries

A bicycling accident that involves a motor vehicle may obviously be very serious or even fatal, but other situations can also result in significant injuries.
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    January 24, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Bicyclists who have the misfortune to be involved in an accident often suffer serious injuries. A bicycling accident that involves a motor vehicle may obviously be very serious or even fatal, but other situations can also result in significant injuries.

The recent Illinois Appellate Court case of Smart v. City of Chicago provides an example where a road construction project was the cause of the accident.

A hidden gash in the street

After playing tennis with a friend, the victim was heading home, riding his bicycle near the corner of Marcey Street and Cortland Street in Chicago. Part of the street was designated for bicycling, with a bike lane marked off on the pavement. The victim had traveled through this area many times in the past.

Unfortunately, due to a city construction resurfacing project, the street suddenly transitioned to a rugged texture, with a lip at the beginning of the resurfaced area as well as raised areas around utility covers. The victim slowed his speed and attempted to navigate around these obstacles, but when he veered around a utility cover, his front tire got stuck in a concealed, deep gash left in the roadway, sending him over the handlebars. The victim dislocated his shoulder and fractured it in multiple places, requiring multiple shoulder surgeries.

The victim brought suit against the city, alleging that the city had failed to maintain the road in a reasonably safe condition. The city argued against its liability on a number of grounds.

Not an open and obvious hazard

The court found that the city, as a property owner, had a duty to exercise ordinary care to ensure that the street was reasonably safe. The city, whether under a theory of negligence or premises liability, owed this duty to those lawfully using the street.

The city's resurfacing project had altered the otherwise safe bicycle path, resulted in raised obstacles that were not visible. The city's conduct created the hazard and these alterations were the cause of the victim's injuries.

The hazardous condition was not open and obvious--a conclusion supported by the city's only witness, a city asphalt foreman who had been present on the day the surface of the street was removed. That witness had testified that, during the time of the accident, the street appeared perfectly level and that the shallow trench that caused the victim's injury appeared to be merely a concrete shadow on the pavement.

The city was in the midst of resurfacing the street where the accident occurred; a project that was ongoing on the day of the accident. The city's resurfacing project created the unsafe condition that caused the victim's personal injuries, and the city was therefore liable.

Compensation for your injuries

A bicyclist seriously injured due to the negligence of others--whether caused by the surface of the street or the driver of an automobile--deserves compensation for those injuries. Even if the bicyclist is partially at fault, which was not the case here, there may still be a valid claim. Seek an experienced personal injury attorney who can provide you with the personal attention you deserve and ensure that all those responsible for your injuries are held accountable.

Article provided by Clancy Law
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