Road Conditions & Motorcycle Accidents
Not all motorcycle accidents are caused by a negligent driver or rider. In some cases, dangerous road conditions are to blame. As a result, injured motorcycle riders may be entitled to file a civil lawsuit against a municipal authority for compensation.
Common Road Conditions That Lead to Motorcycle Accidents
Issues with road design, construction, and maintenance can lead to motorcycle accidents in Philadelphia. Here are some of the most common dangerous conditions that cause motorcycle crashes:
- Debris on the road.
- Large cracks in the road.
- Lack of guardrails or dividers.
- Faded lines marking lanes, road borders, or intersections.
- Poor lighting on roads and at intersections.
- Pavement defects (e.g., potholes, uneven pavement, resurfaced pavement, and grooved pavement).
- Poorly designed intersections.
- Lane shifts and turn lanes without visible signs or markings.
- Sand or loose gravel on the pavement.
Hazardous weather (e.g., flooding, severe storms, etc.) is also often to blame, but another party may not be liable in these situations unless another driver was involved in the accident.
Who Is Responsible For Poorly Maintained Roads in Pennsylvania?
Most roads are maintained by state governments and local agencies. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is responsible for maintaining state roads. If PennDOT fails to do so properly, leading to an accident, it may be liable for the resulting damages. However, in some situations, it is also possible that a private contractor or other agencies may be liable or jointly responsible for failure to maintain the road. In these cases, a thorough investigation must be conducted to determine whether multiple parties must be held accountable for their portion of fault.
Can Local or State Governments Bear Responsibility?
Local and state government authorities are considered immune from civil liability in many circumstances, according to the Sovereign Immunity Act and the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act. However, when it comes to motorcycle accidents, sovereign immunity is waived for injured riders if the crash was caused due to the negligence of a government employee or agency. Therefore you may have the right to sue the government agency responsible for maintaining the area where your accident occurred.
That being said, the state does have caps on the amount of compensation you are able to recover. The Sovereign Immunity Act limits the amount of compensation a plaintiff (victim) can seek from the state government to $250,000, and the Tort Claims Act sets a limit of $500,000 for the entire case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim Against a Local or State Government?
After a motorcycle accident caused by a lack of maintenance which resulted in dangerous road conditions, injured riders have six months to send written notice of their claim. The notice must be sent to the government agency responsible for maintaining the area and should include:
- The claimant’s name and address;
- The date, hour, and approximate location of the accident; and,
- Your attending physician’s name and office address.
If you fail to send this notice within six months, you will likely lose the ability to pursue compensation. After a motorcycle accident caused by a dangerous road condition, speak to a Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Attorney as soon as possible. They can help you determine which agency is liable and assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.