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Defect Roadways/ Roadway Obstacles

Even the most experienced bikers may be no match for a roadway that is riddled with pockmarks, potholes, loose gravel, debris, deep fissures and cracks.

If you are injured in a Boston motorcycle accident caused in whole or in part to a defectively-designed or poorly maintained roadway, there is a strong chance you can successfully recover damages from the responsible government agency. Injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can help.

Conditions that may result in nothing more than a bumpy ride for passenger car occupants could be devastating for someone on a motorcycle. The two-wheeled vehicle don’t absorb impact the same way, and neither do they offer the physical protection for riders the way cars do. That leaves the motorcycle operator and passenger more susceptible to injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord/ neck injuries
  • Road rash/ burns
  • Serious internal injuries

Tragically, some motorcyclists even lose their lives.

Massachusetts law anticipates property damage resulting from vehicle encounters with potholes, but the maximum you will receive is $4,000 or $5,000 – depending on whether the road is managed by the state or a local municipality. Private auto insurance may also cover some portion of property damage resulting from defects, that’s usually minus several hundred dollars in deductibles. But if you have been seriously injured as a result of such a defect, it is imperative that you contact an experienced injury lawyer, who can help you explore all potential avenues of financial recovery.

Examples of Roadway Defects/ Roadway Obstacles

The list of roadway hazards for motorcyclists in Boston is extensive. Here are a few that may open the door to a successful injury lawsuit:

  • Potholes – This is a depression or cavity in the road caused by erosion and seasonal weather changes.
  • Improper signage – Are the signs directing motorists missing or damaged? Are hazards marked clearly?
  • Roadway debris – Is there sand or gravel on the road where there should not be? Is debris that fell off a truck or car blocking the road?
  • Poor design – Are the curves properly graded for safety?
  • Signs blocking view of hazard – Did construction crews or other entities erect temporary signs that blocked the view for motorists?
  • Railroad crossing signs – Was the railroad crossing properly marked? Should it have been upgraded with a cross-arm and lights? Were the signals properly functioning?
  • Poor lighting – Roadways must be adequately illuminated at night.
  • Dangerous intersection – Are the hazards all marked? Were the signals functioning properly? Is the right-of-way clear?

These are the kinds of problems that municipalities have a duty to correct. If you can show the owner or other entity responsible for managing the site either knew or should have known about the issue and failed to correct it, you may be entitled to collect damages.

There may also be grounds to take action against private individuals or companies for failure to properly secure certain loads, resulting in hazardous debris in the roadway. This assumes, of course, that you can identify the entity responsible for that debris. Typically, this means either presenting witness testimony or video evidence of the debris falling or strong evidence that the items belonged to that entity.

Private Property vs. Public Property

Most roadway defect claims are against municipalities or the state for damage on public roads and ways. However, in some cases, there may be claims against private property owners too.

  • Private Property – This would mostly include commercial property onto which visitors are invited for business purposes. In these instances, property owners and property manager have a responsibility to maintain their premises – including the driveways and parking lots – in a reasonably safe manner. If patrons suffer property damage or injury as a result of defective design or faulty maintenance, the liability insurance of the owner should cover those damages. The same rule is generally applicable to all private property owners concerning their driveways, parking areas and walkways. Protections are extended to all visitors who are lawfully on the property.
  • Roads and highways – Massachusetts has two statutes that assign responsibility for roadway design and maintenance. M.G.L. c. 84, Section 15, states that cities and towns must properly maintain public ways. If a municipality had reasonable or constructive notice of the defect (knew about it or should have known about it by exercise of due care) and failed to take prompt action, a person could seek damages of up to $5,000. Although perfection is not required (per the 1935 case of Zacherer v. Wakefield), the municipality must take reasonable measures to learn about and address these problems. Another statute, M.G.L. c. 81, Section 18, addresses defects in highways. The statute indicates the Commonwealth is liable for injuries sustained on state highways if those injuries are caused by defects within the limits of the constructed traveled roadway. The exception is if injuries are caused by a lack of a railing on the highway or if the injury occurs on a sidewalk of the highway during construction, reconstruction or repair. The maximum a person could recover under this statute is $4,000.

When a government agency fails to properly design or maintain a road, it’s a form of negligence. If you have been injured as a result of such negligence, call us to learn more about how we can help.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.

Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL
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