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Can I Sue the Road

Injured while cycling on dangerous roads? Is compensation available?

Thousands of people are injured while cycling on roadways in Canada every year. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reports that over 4300 Canadians were hospitalized for cycling injuries in 2009 - 2010. Half of these injuries occurred in just three months, being June, July, and August. The CIHI also reports that 78% of the people requiring admission to a special trauma centre for a head injury sustained while cycling were not wearing a helmet.

Injuries while cycling usually occur due to the bike operator’s error. The failure to wear a helmet, failing to watch for traffic, weaving between traffic, biking without a light, and failing to obey road signs are some of the errors that can lead to cyclist injury.

However, cyclists are occasionally injured on the roads due to no fault of their own. The Province of Ontario enacted law to ensure that drivers of motor vehicles drive no closer than one meter from cyclists. This may prevent some injuries but, unfortunately, it won’t prevent all hazards that cyclists may face when biking.

Road condition hazards faced by cyclists are surprisingly frequent...hazards that go beyond the obvious car-hitting-cyclist hazards. Poorly signed road construction, sudden lane terminations or restrictions, unexpected and unsigned elevation changes or road surface changes, obstructed fire hydrants, low hanging branches, and poorly designed bike lanes can all lead to cycling injuries.

When a cyclist is injured due to a road condition hazard, he/she may be entitled to be compensated by the city for their damages. A personal injury lawyer can do a full assessment to determine the likelihood that the city or any other person negligently caused or contributed to your injuries. It is very important that you or your lawyer immediately advise the municipality in writing of the nature of your injuries, along with when, how, and where they occurred, if there is any possibility that the municipality is liable for your injuries. Any claim you may have against a municipality can be wiped out if you don’t give notice to the municipality within 10 days of the injury. This notice period can only be extended in limited circumstances.

Clearly, helmets make a huge difference in the severity head injuries. Head injury prevention while biking is a focus of Murray Ralston Law. The law firm heads up the North Bay Helmets on Kids campaign every spring, and by donating helmets to school children, we trust that children can ride their bikes more safely and avoid becoming another major injury statistic.

* The information above is not intended to be legal advice. Each situation is different and the information provided above may not provide you with all law applicable to your facts. To ensure you are properly protected under the law applicable to your facts, please contact Murray Ralston Law for a free consultation.