Can You Sue If a Pothole Causes A Motorcycle Crash?

Large pothole filled with water on an asphalt road

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motorcycle accident involving a pothole or other dangerous road conditions, you may be wondering if you have any recourse for collecting compensation for damages. The personal injury attorneys at eastern Pennsylvania law firm Thomas, Conrad & Conrad have decades of experience helping injured victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents find justice and get back on their feet after a crash.

Potholes Pose a Serious Hazard on Pennsylvania Roads

Potholes are much more than an inconvenience that can damage your car or motorcycle. Even the most conscientious biker can be involved in an accident when encountering poor road conditions such as potholes. Hitting a pothole at even a low speed can cause a motorcycle crash. Accidents also can be caused by a motorcyclist or another motorist swerving to avoid a pothole. Because they have no protection surrounding them, motorcyclists may sustain catastrophic injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), spinal cord injuries, and amputation. 

Who Is Liable When a Motorcycle Accident Involves a Pothole?

Portions of city, county, and state taxes are used to maintain and repair roadways in Pennsylvania. However, some Pennsylvania roads are notoriously bad, and potholes have been known to remain unrepaired for months. Agencies such as PennDOT have a legal obligation to repair roads in a timely manner so dangerous conditions don’t cause accidents. Although bringing a claim against a government entity can be challenging, victims of motorcycle accidents can and have recovered compensation after being injured in crashes caused by potholes.

A municipality or state likely will only be liable if they fail to correct a known dangerous condition within a reasonable time. Typically, six to eight weeks is considered reasonable by most courts unless multiple accidents have previously occurred due to the pothole. Your motorcycle accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding your claim and determine whether the government knew about the dangerous condition and for how long.

Bringing a Motorcycle Accident Claim Against the Government

Derived from British common law, “sovereign immunity” is a concept that typically shields federal and state governments from being held liable for damages. However, Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Immunity Act enables injured victims to sue the Commonwealth in cases involving negligent maintenance of state roadways. Claims against local or municipal governments, such as counties and cities, are governed by the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, which allows similar claims.

Procedures and Statutes of Limitations

Within six months from the date the motorcycle accident occurred, the injured victim must send written notice of the claim to the relevant government agency and the attorney general if the claim is against the Commonwealth. This notice must include:

  • Name and address of the claimant
  • Date, time, and location of the motorcycle accident
  • Name and address of treating physician(s)
  • Details about the crash

If you send notice after the six-month deadline, any claim or personal injury lawsuit you file likely will be dismissed. If you intend to file a claim against a municipality or county, procedures may be different. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who is familiar with handling claims against both state and local governments in eastern Pennsylvania.

Damage Caps

In cases involving the Commonwealth or Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there is a $250,000 limit on personal injury damages that may be recovered by a victim. If you’re filing a claim against a local government agency, such as a county, city, or township, the cap is $500,000 per injured person.

Other Sources of Compensation for Motorcycle Pothole Accidents

If another motorist was involved in the accident, you may be entitled to recover damages from their auto insurance policy. For example, if a car swerved to avoid a pothole and hit you, both the driver and the government agency responsible for road maintenance could be liable. Your personal injury lawyer can determine all possible sources of compensation and advise you of which may be feasible in your case.

Motorcycle Accident Cases Require Vigorous Legal Representation

If you decide to pursue a motorcycle accident claim, you can expect to come up against strong opposition, especially when the government is involved. Hiring a motorcycle accident attorney who’s well-versed in handling cases involving dangerous road conditions is a must. Your lawyer will know how to gather relevant evidence and put it all together to prove liability. They also handle all communications and negotiations with officials and their insurers and fight to help you recover the maximum compensation you need to heal and move on with your life.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in PA

At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our team of personal injury lawyers is dedicated to helping make things right for injured victims and their families. With offices in Northampton, Lehigh, Berks, and Monroe counties, we represent all injured victims throughout all counties in Eastern Pennsylvania. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact us online or call us at 610-867-2900 to schedule a free consultation.


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