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Philadelphia Potholes, Street Defects, and Bicycle Accidents

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Who Is Liable When a Road Defect Causes Injury?

You are riding home from work, when your bike suddenly jolts. The road has recently been repaired, but the surface is uneven. You are thrown off your bike and into traffic. What do you do when a road defect causes an accident?

Philadelphia Road Defect Bicycle Accidents

The City of Philadelphia’s Streets Department identifies three types of road defects: potholes, cave-ins, and ditches.

  • Potholes: Potholes are holes in the asphalt layer of the road. They are caused when water trapped under the road surface freezes and thaws weakening the asphalt. Potholes can also occur when temporary road fixes shift or crack.
  • Cave-ins: Cave-ins or sinkholes are irregular shaped cavities that penetrate through both the asphalt and the concrete base of the road.
  • Ditches: A ditch is a rectangular excavation in the roadway. Ditches are usually made by utility companies or plumbers who work on underground lines.

We’d like to add two more road hazards to the list: uneven pavement and improperly placed sewer grates.

  • Improper repairs: Uneven pavement or ridges can occur when road repairs are sloppy or incomplete. These are hazards to bicyclists.
  • Improperly placed sewer grates: When sewer grate or storm drain bars go in the same direction as traffic, bike tires can become stuck inside the grate. Sewer grates should be placed horizontal to traffic or covered with crosshatch safety bars, but repairmen don’t always return grates to their proper position. This creates a serious road hazard for bicyclists.

Report Street Defects!

Reporting potholes helps keep the roads safe for everyone. In Philadelphia, you can report a pothole or other street defect to the City of Philadelphia’s Streets Department.

Liability for Accidents Caused by Road Defects

Road defects occur for two reasons: long term wear and tear or improper repair work.

Although the City of Philadelphia’s Streets Department is responsible for repairing road hazards, it can’t always repair these hazards immediately. Liability will depend on whether or not the hazard has been reported and whether the City has made an effort to repair the hazard in a reasonable period of time.

Road hazards caused by repair work are another story. Companies and contractors performing the roadwork are responsible for warning the public of any potential hazards related to the job. Proper warning could include signs, cones or blocking of the area.

If a company or contractor creates a hazard during the repair, the company or the city may be responsible for the resulting injuries. After an accident, contact an attorney in Philadelphia to discuss your bicycle accident injuries. If you’ve been injured after an accident caused by a road defect, contact an attorney in Philadelphia to discuss your injuries. In return, the attorney will be able to explain liability in your case, discuss your rights, and let you know how much your case may be worth.

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I am the founder and named partner at The Law Firm of Erik K. Vogel, LLC. For decades I have represented injured persons and victims of negligence. My personal injury practice includes complex civil litigation and trials, medical malpractice, medical negligence, product liability, workplace accidents, wrongful death, bike accident injuries, premises liability, slip/trip and falls, construction accidents, and assault and battery cases. Since 2011, I have actively participated with the informational sites about Philadelphia Bike Accident Law and Life Insurance Law in partnership with Petrelli Law, P.C.

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