$240,000: Cyclist Hits Height Differential On Bike Path And Is Thrown Head First

CASE DESCRIPTION:  Plaintiff was thrown off his bike when he hit a 1.5 inch height differential in the road.  The height difference was the result of roadway construction.  Plaintiff brought suit for personal injury from a dangerous condition on public property during the course of a construction project

RESULT:  A structure which paid $240,000 up front with $600 per month for life with 20 years guaranteed plus guaranteed lump sum payments totaling $146,000 every 5 years.

Plaintiff was riding a bicycle southbound in a bicycle lane.  Prior to the date of the accident, Defendant JEG Construction Company had been performing roadway work for the County.  Part of this work included the construction placement of a concrete bus pad, which was located in a bus zone.  The edge of this bus pad ran from the curve out across the bicycle lane and into the traffic lane.  There was a height differential between the edge of the roadway surface and the edge of the bus pad of approximately 1½ inches.

As Plaintiff was riding his bicycle and approaching the edge of the bus pad, he observed the height differential but was unable to go around it due to heavy traffic on the street itself.  He then braced himself for impact and when the front wheel of his bicycle struck the edge of the bus pad, his front wheel went airborne and the front wheel came loose from the frame of the bike.  When the front forks of the bike came down and struck the pavement, he was ejected from the bike and was thrown head over heels, striking the back of his head on the pavement.

Plaintiff’s contends as to liability, that the height differential between the roadway and the edge of the bus pad constituted a dangerous condition of public property and was created by the Defendant, JEG Construction Company and presented a clear danger to cyclists using the bicycle land.  The county of Los Angeles was on site during the course of the construction project and had adequate notice of this dangerous condition and control of the project so that corrective measures could be taken to reduce the level of the height differential so as to protect cyclists.

The Defense responded that the height differential did not constitute a dangerous condition of public property and the accident did not happen in the manner alleged by Plaintiff.  Plaintiff had adequate notice that construction was going on in the area so that he had adequate time to become aware of this condition and, in fact, the other cyclist who was with him was able to avoid the edge of the bus pad and suffered no injury.

The Defense next asserted that Plaintiff failed to adequately maintain his bicycle since the front wheel should not have separated from the bicycle if it had been properly maintained.  Also Plaintiff was comparatively negligent for failing to wear a bicycle helmet which, would have either prevented or minimized his injuries.

TYPE OF CASE:  Personal Injury

INJURIES:  Initially following this accident, Plaintiff suffered a C3-4 quardiparesis but has undergone extensive rehabilitation and has regained use of his upper extremities.  He also suffered a posterior fixed subluxation of the C2 onto C3 vertebrae and disruption of the C2-3 disk, with torn interior longitudinal ligament and a herniated disk at C3-4 which resulted in surgery that involved a C2-3, C3-2 microdiskectomy with fusion of the vertebrae.

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT:  On 8/11/87 at approximately 5:00 p.m. on Diamond Bar Blvd., near its intersection with Sunset Crossing Road in Pomona.

PLAINTIFF’S AGE:  27 at time of incident.

OCCUPATION:  Carpenter

David P. Crandall
For Plaintiff – Mr. W.

Toni Kern
For Defendant – J.E.G. Construction Co.