After a hard winter, roadways across the nation are in terrible condition. Potholes range from tiny ruts to huge chunks of missing asphalt. A recent poll conducted in the UK showed that over 1,000 cyclists have been injured when hitting potholes. Out of those injuries, over 200 are considered serious. The magazine Cycling Weekly has shown that nearly 50 percent of bikers have been due to potholes. In addition, over 30 percent said they have avoided cycling due to potholes and rough road conditions.
When asphalt is exposed to ongoing freezing and thawing, surface water puts stress on it. This stress initially causes small cracks on road surfaces. Over time, due to continued stress from changing weather conditions and the damage caused by traffic, these cracks deteriorate into small ruts. Without proper maintenance, these ruts become the huge potholes that are so dangerous for cyclists.
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Cyclists can maneuver and avoid some potholes, but when riding behind vehicles or on busy roads, potholes can appear seemingly out of nowhere. When a cyclist strikes a large pothole they can be pushed off course and potentially into the way of traffic. If a pothole is big enough, it can stop the front wheel, sending the cyclist over the top. These are real threats to cyclists this year, as winter conditions were severe nationwide.
The best way to prevent harm is to avoid potholes whenever possible. When riding your bike, look ahead and monitor the surface of the road. If you cannot see the road surface due to traffic, watch for cars either being jarred as they strike the potholes or veering out of the way to avoid them. If you are approaching a pothole and you simply cannot avoid it, brace yourself. Try to steer to either side of the pothole as the dip is usually most severe in the center. Try to lift your body up off your seat slightly to help dampen the impact on your body.
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If there is a large pothole or numerous areas of damage on roadways that you frequent, contact local Department of Transportation. If the pothole is very severe and is endangering others, contact local authorities, as well. If you have been harmed due to damage from striking a pothole, you may have a legal claim. In order to prove damages, you will need to report the incident and keep record of your medical expenses and material losses.
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In the event you are injured due to striking a pothole, remain where you are and contact 911 and the local Department of Transportation. Take plenty of photos of the pothole and of your injuries. If the crash was severe enough that witnesses stopped, take down their name, email address, and phone number. This contact information can be vital in proving that your crash occurred due to the pothole or road damage. Seek medical attention immediately for your injuries. Even injuries that may seem relatively minor at first should be assessed by a physician. When you are involved in a crash, your body releases adrenaline. This adrenaline boost can mask pain, leading you to feel that you are okay even if you have significant injuries. If you have areas of bruising, swelling, bleeding more than can be stopped with a paper towel or bandage, or difficulty bearing weight or moving, you should definitely be seen by a physician.
Depending on the laws in your state or jurisdiction, you may be able to make a claim for damages. In order to make the claim, you will need to show that you suffered injury and material losses as a result of your crash. Injuries can be proven with photographs, statements of police officers, medical records, and anecdotal notes that you keep on your recovery. In addition, take photographs of your bike if it was damaged, and of the pothole or deteriorated roadway.
If you have struck a pothole while on your bike and have been injured, it’s important to speak to a bicycle crash lawyer right away. Time is of the essence in these cases. Report your accident to the authorities even if you failed to do so at the time of the crash. Keep notes on what occurred and what you were told by officials and physicians. If you require ongoing therapy or your physician suggests additional testing, do follow up and complete these prescribed treatments. You must show that you are doing your part to recover from your injuries.
The team at Kass & Moses is eager to hear from you if you have been injured after striking a pothole with your bicycle. Contact them today for a free consultation and to learn more about your rights and responsibilities under the law. They will work diligently to help you recover financially in your case so that you can focus on healing your injuries and returning to cycling again.