If you're ever hurt while on a bike trail, your instinct may be to immediately start gearing up for a bike trail lawsuit. But not so fast.
Depending on where your injury took place and the chain of events that led up to your accident, your attempt at getting compensation for a bike trail injury may fall flat in court.
That's why it's a good idea to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to spot potential legal obstacles to winning your bike trail lawsuit. Here are three common issues that may affect your case:
1. Ownership of the Bike Trail. Bicycle and shared-use recreational trails are typically owned by government entities. This can include cities, counties, and states, as well as agencies like the parks department, natural resources department, or even a water district if the trail is on a levee.
But government entities can also enter into agreements with other entities, public or private, to maintain or otherwise take responsibility for bike trail liability. This is one issue in an ongoing bike trail injury lawsuit in Wisconsin, the legal newspaper The Record reports.
If the bike trail is on private property, however, issues regarding premises liability will be more clear-cut.
2. Government Claims and Immunity. Another potential obstacle lies in the concept of governmental immunity. Some states like California have laws that generally bar government entities from being held liable in bike trail lawsuits. Otherwise, governments would likely steer clear of creating any recreational trails at all out of fear of being sued, courts have held.
If there's no statute to bar liability, bike trail injury victims may have to first file a government tort claim before filing a lawsuit. Time is of the essence, so again, consulting an injury attorney may be your best bet.
3. The Cyclist's Own Negligence. If a bike trail injury victim was himself negligent in any way -- perhaps by biking recklessly, or by failing to adhere to posted bike trail rules -- his potential injury award may be reduced. He may also be barred from compensation altogether.
If you still have questions about bike trail lawsuits, head over to FindLaw Answer's injury and accident message board. Once you post a question, you can usually get an answer to your issue within 24 hours.