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Bicyclist injured in construction zone receives $20M settlement

To ensure roadside safety, bicyclists follow the same rules as motorists do under the California Vehicle Code. With increased building development throughout San Diego County, however, cyclists can expect a greater number of hazardous road conditions and obstacles. Bicycle riders should exercise extra care and attention to avoid accidents while riding through construction zones. 

When a San Diego resident cycled his way along a bike lane one morning, he suddenly found himself riding inside a two-foot-wide open construction ditch. At the time, construction crews were refilling and excavating several sizable trenches in closed bike lanes. While the construction company claimed that crews put up traffic control devices, the bicyclist nonetheless landed in the ditch. Ultimately, the ditch launched him off his bike and into a large pile of rocks and dirt intended for a replacement project involving the city’s water main. 

Results of the legal action 

Because the bicyclist crashed into the large pile of rocks and dirt headfirst, the severe injuries he suffered may cause him to spend the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair. A legal action filed by the bicyclist’s family resulted in a $20 million settlement, as reported by NBC 7. The City of San Diego and the construction company shared liability in the allegedly preventable accident, which is not the city’s first lawsuit over dangerous road conditions causing bicyclists to suffer injuries. 

Construction hazards and motorists failing to yield 

Encinitas and San Diego County have designated bike lanes, but accidents occur in these lanes due to motorists failing to yield to bicyclists. Aware of this fact, a cyclist typically focuses his or her attention on preventing collisions, which may, at times, make it difficult to be fully aware of construction hazards in the street. Without adequate warning and traffic control devices in place, a bicyclist could easily fall into a dangerous gap or defect in the street and, as a consequence, suffer serious injuries that may require legal assistance in obtaining just compensation.