Road defects can be just as dangerous to cyclists as are any vehicles out on the roadway. Potholes, road construction, manhole covers and grates can be traps for riders. Construction plates and temporary asphalt not properly secured and level within the roadway can also be a hazard. Road milling and paving may be uncomfortable for motorists but lethal for cyclists.
Establishing liability in these types of cases in New York can be tricky. You first need to identify the entity that created the condition. Was it a municipality or private entity? If it was a municipality, can it be proven that the City, Town, County, or Village had prior written notice of this defect? This is a prerequisite of bringing a claim against a municipal defendant. If it’s a private contractor such as Con Ed, Verizon or National Grid, can you prove the condition was created within a close period of time to the happening of your accident? This is also a requirement to prove a claim.
This month we resolved two road defect claims against private contractors. One on Long Island and the other in New York City.
The first involved a cyclist who struck a large exacted area of a roadway in Port Washington, NY. The cyclist, an infrequent recreational rider, was traveling along the roadway when he struck a large hole in the roadway left by National Grid. National Grid was undertaking a large gas line project in the area and was excavating the roadway to replace the lines. Temporary patch was being used while to project was ongoing and awaiting final street restoration. This hole that caused the crash was not properly patched. The failure to place the temporary patch flush with the roadway was in violation of the codes of the Town of North Hempstead required all temporary pavement to be flush and level. As a result of the fall, our client sustained a fractured hip and road rash to his legs and face.
While the case was on the trial calendar, a mediation was held where a settlement was obtained on behalf of our client in the amount of $170,000.00.
The second case involved a cyclist who crashed on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn. At the location of the crash the City of New York was undertaking milling and re-paving of the street. The city hired Intercounty Paving to do the work. In this case the claim was bought against both the city and the contractor it hired.
The rules in New York City (Rule 2-11, et seq) requires that if work remains unfinished at the end of the day, the permittee (contractor) must perform temporary repairs. This includes the backfill of any street opening/excavation, and asphalt must be installed flush with the adjacent surfaces.
If plating or decking, the plate or decking must extend a minimum of 12 inches beyond the edge of the trench and be firmly placed to prevent rocking and be sufficiently ramped to provide a smooth riding surface. All plating and decking must be made safe for vehicles, cyclists and/or pedestrians and be adequate to carry the load. NYC Rule 19-109 also requires any person who removes, opens or otherwise disturbs the pavement of or excavates in a public street to provide barriers, lighting, warning signs or other protective measures.
Here the contractor who was performing the milling left the condition in a dangerous condition and failed to provide protective measures causing our client to strike the milled roadway, fall and crash. As a result, he sustained a fractured shoulder. The case was settled against the contractor prior to trial for $120,000.00 dollars.
These are just two examples of the many cases we have handled involving street defects in New York City and Long Island. If you have been injured by a road defect or other street condition, reach out to us today. We have the tools and skills to investigate your case, and we can help you seek justice in court. Our number is (866) 352-6944, and you can contact us online.