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Boston Bike Crashes Occur with Alarming Frequency

With so many more people riding bikes and bike advocacy groups doing better than ever, one might expect the per-capita share of bike accidents to bike riders to be on the downswing.  This would be true ideally even if the overall number of bike crashes was on the rise.  This would make sense with there being so many new bike riders on the streets of Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding areas.

bike injury lawyerAccording to a recent news article from the Boston Globe, Boston is still very much a dangerous place for bike riders in terms of the frequency of bike crashes and a lot of the danger has to do with road conditions.  As the author who is an avid Boston bike rider and has been for more than 20 years noted, Boston has some of the most dangerous roads in the world and he is comparing to other countries that are from being called developed nations. Not only are traffic patters dangerous for bicycle riders, but the actual condition of the road surface can be very dangerous. This includes potholes in major thoroughfares in Boston proper such as directly in front of the Public Garden and even the Four Seasons Hotel. He ran into that pothole and his handlebars jolted so violently that his thumb snapped back and was fractured.   Previous to this incident, the author had fallen on his elbow and broken the joint and he was actually leaving his doctor when the hit the pothole.

He also noted that in addition to the potholes, there are many areas with uneven pavement and asphalt that can present just as much as hazard as the potholes. The city does go around and mark these and will eventually repair them. When they prioritize repairs, the main concern is not bike riders being injured, but further damage to the roads.  Potholes are certainly an inconvenience to motorists as well.

We have all been driving and hit a pothole and cringed as we hear that loud bang or scraping when the car bottoms out, but the potholes rarely cause an accident unless we are dealing with someone trying to avoid the pothole and running into another vehicle. From the perspective of the perspective of a bike rider, the pothole can cause serious injury to the rider of even cause a fatal Boston bike crash.

Sovereign Immunity

As our Boston bike crash lawyers can explain, when an injured plaintiff, including a bike rider has been in a bike crash, wishes to file a lawsuit against the city, there are certain issues that must be addressed.  The first issue is to determine who was responsible for the maintenance of the area in which the accident occurred. Once it has been determined which city agency was responsible for keeping the roads and streets in a safe and usable condition. While this typically only means car riders, it should also include bike riders since we are seeing so many more bike riders on the roads these days.

The major issues that arise when dealing with a claim against a municiple government involves the doctrine of sovereign immunity.  This was originally a way that the king of England created to prevent the crown from being sued. Eventually this became what we know as the doctrine of sovereign immunity that protects local governments from being sued in civil court. When they are able to be sued, there is a limit on the level of damages that can be claimed.

One important distinction that must be made is whether defendant was participating in a sovereign function at the time of the accident or a proprietary function. When a municipal government is engaged in a sovereign function it is one that is needed for the government to operate.  It is generally a function that is for the benefit of the citizens and is not being done to make the municipal government money.

In some cases, the municipal government is engaged in a function that is designed to raise money.  This is characterized as the local government actually being a market participant. When this occurs, we are dealing with a proprietary function and there is no protection for proprietary functions like there is with sovereign immunity.

When a case is filed, it is typically filed against either the city with the complaint going to an agency head.  The actually workers or other employees who may have caused the accident are not liable personally, and must be reimbursed for any out of pocket expenses unless the employee acted with intention when committing the alleged tortuous conduct.

There are basically two categories of torts and this includes intentional torts and negligence based torts.  Intentional torts, as the name implies are ones where the torfeasor actually wanted to harm the other person.  This can include tortious assault and battery, trespass to chattles, conversion of chattles,  arson, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).  For the most part, negligence includes everything else ranging for standard negligence to the negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED).  If a government worker commits an intentional tort, claimant could also file a lawsuit against the employee personally, though there many not be a real world advantage to do this.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston bicycle accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 617-777-7777.

Additional Resources:

For cyclist, it’s one broken bone after another, September 8, 2017, By Dean Champion, Boston Globe

More Blog Entries:

Damages in Boston Bike Crash Lawsuits, July 8, 2017, Boston Bicycle Accident Attorney Blog

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