Bike Accidents Involving
Street Defects, Pot Holes, and other Road Conditions
Street defects and other dangerous roadway conditions for cyclists include:
- Pot Holes
- Road Hardware such as Manhole Covers and Utility Vaults
- Construction Plates
- Road Cuts, Trenches, and other Temporary Paving
- Grates and Sewers
- Construction Debris and Negligently Placed Equipment
- Negligently Placed Dumpsters or Other Demolition Equipment
- Improperly marked or placed speed bumps or speed humps
If you are a cyclist who suffers an accident as a result any of the above
street conditions, we may be able to help. The most difficult case to
prove is a case involving a pothole in a city street. In almost all cases
in New York, you must prove that the City or Municipality had "prior
written notice of the defect" before your accident occurred. However,
if you can prove that the City of Municipality "affirmatively"
created the condition, worked in the area, or otherwise had notice, you
might be able to maintain a lawsuit. To learn more read our " Wheels
of Justice" article on this issue byclicking here.
If you were involved in a crash due to a road defect,
REPORT IT! Even if you were not hurt, by reporting it you help protect your fellow
cyclists who may later face the same defect and not be so lucky.
See a Street Defect,
take a picture or video and report it!.
Who owns the Manhole Cover, Street Plate, or other Hardware?
Utility Companies normally have markings on street hardware. The markings
are in the form of abbreviations, such as MGO or WSNY. For a list of typical
click here. There is no guarantee that the marking is accurate or that it demonstrates
the true owner. Further investigation is always needed.
The law is different when it comes to road hardware, such as man holes
and vaults that may be owned and maintained by private companies, municipal
authorities, such as the Transit Authority, or utility providers such
as Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) or Verizon. These entities are required
by the New York City Administrative Code to maintain the area 12"
inches around the structure, flush with the road surface. (11 RCNY2-14)
This is what we call the 12" Rule, and it creates a basis for liability
for the entity that owns and maintains the street hardware.
The section now numbered §2-07(b) and provides as follows:
(1) The owners of covers or gratings on a street are responsible for monitoring
the condition of the covers and gratings and the area extending twelve
inches outward from the perimeter of the hardware;
(2) The owners of covers and gratings shall replace or repair any cover
or grating found to be defective, and shall repair any defective street
condition found within an area extending twelve inches outward from the
perimeter of the cover or grating.
(3) Street hardware shall be flush with the surrounding street surface.
Street hardware which is greater than ½"above or below the
street surface . . . shall be replaced or adjusted . . . ."
Street opening plates (traffic plates) are required to be "pinned"
in place so that they do not shift or move from vehicle traffic, and should
ramped in order to keep them in secure positions, as well as a smooth
transition as one traverses the plate. If a street opening is made by
a contractor and plates are used, the responsibly to properly pin and
ramp the plate, as well as to properly maintain the surrounding roadway,
lies with the contractor.
To report a dangerous or defective street plate,
By statute, a contractor working on a city street or sidewalk is required
to keep all areas used by the public in a safe condition and it "shall
be maintained free from debris, equipment, materials, projections or conditions
that may cause a slipping, tripping or other hazard" In addition,
"waste dumpsters and debris, debris boxes should be secured and those
containing material or debris shall be covered at the end of each workday".
For a further list of the New York City Rules and Regulations regarding
street opening and excavations,
In one of our cases, we once represented a cyclist who was injured when
the tarp on top of a dumpster was not properly secured and was allowed
to blow loose and into the cyclist path. As a result, the cyclist lost
control of his bike, crashed, and his ankle was run over by an unidentified
truck. While we were never able to identify the truck that struck our
client, we were successful in our suit against the contractor and building
owner in the claim for negligent placement of the dumpster and the failure
to secure the tarp.
If you are a cyclist injured by a road defect, pot hole, or other roadway
hardware or construction debris, call us today at 1-866-Flanzig or email us at