What factors affect city liability for potholes?

Written by
Abraham Jaros
|
Updated on Saturday, Oct 21, 2023

Riding your bicycle into a pothole can result in devastating injuries. The sudden loss of ground under your bike can fling you onto the pavement and inflict serious pain. Since New York City bears responsibility for keeping the streets safe, you may be owed compensation for medical expenses and other costs. Winning your case may not be easy, though.

Whether you stand a good chance of receiving compensation depends on the circumstances of your case. As Bicycling.com explains, there are a number of factors that may affect whether you can hold a city liable for injuries you suffer because of a pothole or other road hazard.

Timing is important

If a road hazard causes you injury, the city may contend that the hazard formed too soon for them to send maintenance workers out to fix it. A judge might not hold the city responsible if the pothole formed soon before your injury. However, if evidence shows the hazard existed for months or weeks, it will be much harder for the city to argue that they could not have fixed the hazard before you got hurt.

Setting up warnings

Even if the city does not have the resources to quickly fix a road hazard, the city still must warn pedestrians and cyclists that a hazard is present. Putting up a sign warning about potholes, wet cement or upcoming construction hazards can save a cyclist from permanent injury or even death.

Reporting a hazard

If you are fortunate enough to avoid a pothole before suffering a crash, you may report the pothole to the appropriate city authority. Not only will you alert the city to a hazard that they need to fix, but your notification provides a record of the hazard. In the event someone else runs into this hazard before the city repairs it, the city has a record that the city knew about the problem and will be less likely to dodge liability.

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