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Bicycle Accidents in Construction Zones

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Bicycle Accidents in Construction Zones

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Construction zones present unusual and significant dangers to bicyclists, and bicycle accidents in construction zones present significantly different challenges to personal injury lawyers investigating and prosecuting claims for injuries sustained there. The impediments and hazards to safe cycling in construction zones need to be understood by bicyclists, and the possible shifting targets for legal liability need to be considered by injury attorneys.

Bicycling Dangers in Construction Zones

Several dangers may be posed to bicyclists in roadway construction zones, including:

  • Uneven and/or changing road surfaces;
  • Shifting lanes of travel for both bicyclists and motor vehicles;
  • Possible closer proximity to vehicular traffic; and
  • Changed and/or inconsistent signage, warnings, and lane striping.

Safety organizations and public agencies like the Federal Highway Administration publish guides, standards, and advice for roadway managers and their construction contractors on mitigating these dangers and providing safe passage for bicyclists through roadway construction zones. These potential safety solutions range from an advance notice that construction activities will be present in the future to increased signage and lane markings, physical barriers between bike lanes and traffic lanes, to completely relocating the bicycle lanes away from road traffic for the duration of construction activities. Whether or not these safety practices were required by a government entity for a road construction project and whether their contractors’ safety plans were implemented correctly are often key issues for bicycle accidents in construction zones.

Legal Considerations for Bicycle Accidents in Construction Zones

Personal injury claims and lawsuits that result from traffic incidents — including bicycle accidents — that occur in or near active construction zones will often involve multiple defendants. In addition to the drivers and owners of motor vehicles that may have been involved in the incident, it will usually be necessary (or desirable) to include the state or municipal entity that owns the roadway along with the contractors (often corporations) that were performing the work. This is especially the case when there are clear indications that deficiencies or dangers created by the construction project were a factor in causing the injury incident.

In addition to being aware of the additional claim filing and lawsuit filing rules and deadlines involved with claims against public agencies, an experienced personal injury attorney will also understand the essential techniques in the discovery process that can be used to reveal crucial evidence establishing liability against the government entity and its construction contractors. Concerning public entity liability, the personal injury attorney must be aware of the requirements in California of Government Code Section 835 of showing a negligent act or omission has caused a dangerous condition of public property, as well as the entity, having had notice of the defect — either constructive or actual — for a long enough time before the injury incident to have taken action to remediate it.

These twin requirements will often help guide the experienced personal injury lawyer in crafting a discovery plan that can often get the public agency and its contractors — who may have substantially different negligence standards — to point fingers at one another and at key evidence that will prove each other’s negligence.

Finding the Evidence

Any significant road construction project will generate a considerable amount of paperwork, which could point toward deficiencies in the planning or implementing of safety requirements intended to keep bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians safe during the project. These documents that describe or specify safety requirements will often include:

  • Solicitations by the government entity in the form of requests for qualifications, information, or actual proposals — e.g., “RFQs, RFIs, RFPs,” etc. — for responses or bids from construction and construction management companies;
  • Pre-construction documents by the government entity or others that describe the area where construction is to occur, along with elements of the site that may present inherent hazards — traffic volume loads, physical impediments, etc. — that should have been considered during construction safety planning;
  • Pre-construction planning documents by and between the government entity and its contractors specifying the planned safety efforts to keep bicyclists safe during the construction project;
  • Ongoing work inspection records, safety implementation documents, and other materials that may indicate whether or not the safety plans were actually being adequately implemented and having the desired effects; and
  • Communication records between contractors, government entity managers, sub-contractor staff, and others to establish what was going on at and before the bicycle injury incident, who knew what and when.

Crafting a discovery plan aimed at all the relevant defendants in a construction zone bicycle accident case is a key service that an experienced personal injury lawyer can provide for a client.

View this video that shows how one city street construction zone relocated and designated a bicycle lane for safe passage of bicyclists between construction workers and motorists:

Sacramento Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Hello, my name is Ed Smith, and I’m a Sacramento Bicycle Accident Lawyer. Any incident in which a bicyclist is struck by a motor vehicle can cause severe injury or even death. When an incident like this takes plan in a road construction zone, however, the injury claim or lawsuit will often be much more complex because of the likely involvement of the government entity that owns the roadway and the contractors performing the construction work. Pursuing a matter like this requires the skills and expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a bicycle accident near a construction zone, please contact us for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 or via our online contact form.

Photo by embinmt from Pixabay

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