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Can a Bicyclist Injured by a Pothole Sue?

Riding a bicycle on city streets exposes the rider to many kinds of hazard. Distracted drivers, pedestrians walking dogs, roadway debris, and even other cyclists can all pose dangers. Issues with the surface of the road, like potholes and cracked pavement, can be especially dangerous. But if a cyclist is injured by a fall caused by a pothole, can the person or entity responsible for maintaining the road be sued?

Nevada’s recreational use statute limits suits against private landowners

Under NRS 41.510, someone who is injured on private property while engaged in a recreational activity, including riding bicycles, cannot sue the property’s owner, lessee, or occupant for injuries caused by the inadequate maintenance of the property. A private property owner has no obligation to keep roadways safe for use as cycling paths. Nor is the owner required to post warning signs or take other steps, like applying bright paint around hazards. This is true even if the owner has given express permission to the person using the road, unless the rider paid the owner a fee for access.

An exception to this rule will apply if the owner has maliciously or deliberately created an unsafe condition or done nothing to remedy a known, serious hazard. For example, if the owner of a property digs a trench across a roadway but doesn’t take steps to cover the trench or provide warnings, a cyclist who falls into the trench probably has a good cause of action despite Nevada’s recreational use statute.

Limitations on recovering from state and local government agencies

The state of Nevada has waived the sovereign immunity of the state and its political subdivisions, theoretically allowing individuals to bring lawsuits to recover for damages caused by a government agency’s negligence. NRS 41.031. However, state law has limited when government agencies or the employees can be held responsible for civil damages. For example, government agencies are shielded from liability for failing to inspect roadways for potential hazards. NRS 41.033.

Potholes can develop rapidly, especially on heavily used roadways. The agency responsible for the roadway’s maintenance may not discover the hole in time to do anything about it. However, once an agency has actual notice of a hazard, the shield against liability no longer applies. This rule gives cyclists an added incentive to call cities or counties to report roadway problems.

Cyclists should note that in lawsuits against both government agencies and private landowners the most that can be recovered in a lawsuit is $100,000. NRS 41.035. Damages can only be calculated based on the plaintiff’s actual costs (medical bills, lost earnings, etc.). An important lesson to take from this limitation is that cyclists need to make sure their personal health insurance policies cover cycling injuries, which can pile up medical bills well in excess of $100,000.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The attorneys at the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez are experienced in handling personal injury and accident cases. If you have been injured in a bicycling accident we would be happy to talk to you about your options. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Towing a Trailer Legally and Safely in Nevada

Towing a Trailer Legally and Safely in Nevada

With summer in full swing Nevada’s roads are full of vehicles towing trailers. Drivers who tow trailers behind their vehicles need to be mindful of state laws governing safety and installation requirements. Failure to comply with the law can create a dangerous situation that leads to property damage, personal injuries, and expensive litigation.

Nevada’s minimum requirements for trailers

Nevada law has a number of rules that drivers must follow when towing trailers on roads in the state.

  • Reflectors and lighting. All trailers in the state must have two red tail lamps on the back. The lamps must be bright enough to be visible for at least 500 feet to the rear. Trailers also must have stop lamps that are activated when brakes are applied. Stop lamps need to be bright enough when activated to be visible during the day. Most trailers built in the last 50 years are required to have turn signal lights. Rear red reflectors are also required, either separately or as part of the rear lights. NRS 484.551, NRS 484.555, NRS 484.557, NRS 474.553.
  • Trailers that weigh 1,500 pounds or more and were built after July 1, 1975, are required to be equipped with service brakes on all wheels. The brakes must be able to stop the trailer for at least 15 minutes should the trailer be disconnected from the vehicle. NRS 484.593.
  • Wide loads. Trailers over 80 inches wide must comply with additional lighting and reflector requirements. NRS 484.561.
  • Safety chains. Trailers must be installed with safety chains connected to their towing vehicles to prevent runaways.
  • In Nevada trailers are separately titled and registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Managing risks involving a trailer

The state does not impose special insurance requirements for trailers. However, it’s a good idea to check with your liability carrier to confirm that your policy covers damage caused by a trailer. Drivers can get into trouble towing trailers in a number of ways:

  • Jackknifing, fishtailing, and other loss of control. Driver error can lead to a trailer going out of control. Understanding how to respond to these situations is essential to being a responsible trailer owner. Know the maximum safe speed at which your vehicle to can safely tow your trailer, taking into account how its behavior can change depending on its load and road conditions. Proper maintenance, including keeping tires adequately inflated, is also an important part of maintaining control.
  • A properly installed trailer shouldn’t break away from the towing vehicle, but mistakes happen. A breakaway at slow speeds may be a manageable problem, but at highway speeds or on steep grades it can create a serious hazard. This is especially true of old trailers that don’t have braking systems that are required in new equipment. Safety chains hopefully prevent the worst-case scenarios, but the best solution is to avoid breakaways by double checking all connections before getting underway. Failing to do so could be a form of negligence that creates serious legal liability.
  • Drivers who lack experience working with trailers often have a hard time controlling them, especially when backing up. Drivers who will operate trailers regularly can benefit from specialized training courses. If a driver who lacks experience will operate the towing vehicle, take care to keep speeds under control and avoid complex situations as much as possible.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is a Las Vegas personal injury and accident law firm. If you have questions about an accident involving a trailer, call us today for a free attorney consultation. Reach us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.