A Los Angeles cyclist who suffered a major injury after striking a pothole agreed to a $6.5 million settlement with the City this week.
In May 2015, Peter Godefroy was riding his bicycle on a “poorly maintained” street when he struck a large pothole, according to the lawsuit he brought against the City. Godefroy lost control and slammed into the pavement, sustaining multiple broken bones and severe brain trauma. He’s expected to have permanent disabilities from the crash.
Paul Krekorian, one of the 11 L.A. City Councilmembers who voted unanimously to approve the settlement, wants to ensure other area cyclists don’t suffer similar fates. At that meeting, he sponsored a motion mandating inspections of all major bike paths and bike lanes in the city, as well as a cost estimate for their repair.
As more Americans take to bicycling, incidents like this are becoming commonplace both in California and across the country. With many cities struggling to find adequate funding for road maintenance, cyclists are often forced to navigate increasingly dangerous streets. Godefroy’s settlement comes on top of $15 million L.A. paid to injured bicyclists in 2016 alone. (There are no national statistics.)
So what should cyclists do in the event of a crash that may be a city’s fault?
While municipalities and other government entities are immune from most lawsuits, there are exceptions, says Colorado-based cycling attorney Megan Hottman. Cities typically have rules or ordinances concerning road maintenance. If they are unable to maintain the roads to those standards or, at the very least, warn cyclists about any dangers ahead, they leave themselves open to lawsuits.
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