A few weeks ago, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a bicycle injury case that illustrates an important point for Virginia bicycle accident victims. The case required the court to determine if the state government could be legally liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, or if the state was entitled to immunity from the lawsuit. Ultimately, the court concluded that the accident fell within the state’s recreational use statute and dismissed the case.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was riding his bicycle on a mixed-use trail. The trail was designed for bicyclists as well as pedestrians. As the plaintiff approached a pedestrian, the plaintiff rang the bicycle’s bell and began to move toward the middle of the trail to pass the pedestrian.
While the plaintiff was passing the pedestrian, the bicycle’s tire got caught in a crack in the pavement, and the plaintiff lost control of the bike. The plaintiff then fell off the bike and onto the pavement, injuring his shoulder. The crack was about three inches wide, two inches deep, and three feet long, running parallel to the path itself.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the state government. The government asserted immunity on two grounds. First, the government cited a statute that granted immunity for injuries that occur on a “road which provides access to fishing, hunting, or primitive camping, recreational, or scenic areas.” Second, the government cited the state’s recreational use immunity statute, which grants immunity to landowners who open their land for the general public’s recreational use.
The court rejected the government’s first argument, finding that the mixed-use trail was not a “road” as defined in the statute. However, the court agreed that the plaintiff’s accident fell within the state’s recreational use statute because the plaintiff was engaged in recreational activity at the time of the accident.
The plaintiff argued that the government’s conduct was “willful and wanton” and that under the terms of the statute, immunity should not attach. However, the court disagreed, noting that the government cannot be expected to immediately repair all cracks, and here the government had put a repair order in to fix the crack at the time of the accident, but it had not yet been completed. The court explained that the question was not whether the government was merely negligent, and a finding of “willful and wanton” conduct required more culpability than was present in this case.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Bicycle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a bicycle or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While issues of government immunity may arise in some cases, accident victims should not assume that to be the case. Instead, you should contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at the law offices of The Schupak Law Firm We provide free consultations to accident victims, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to assist you in obtaining compensation. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule your free consultation today.
See More Blog Posts:
Virginia Supreme Court Finds Plaintiffs Were Too Late in Amending Complaint, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 17, 2018.
Virginia Product Liability Claims, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 3, 2018.