Tennessee Road Debris: Who is Responsible When It Results in Injuries?

Bicycling is fun, but it can be dangerous. When most people think of bicycle accidents in Tennessee, they think of crashes involving a bike and a vehicle. However, bicyclists can also crash and sustain injuries due to debris on the roadway. Here, our Nashville bicycle accident lawyers talk about whether or not a bicyclist can hold others liable for crashes caused by road debris. In some cases, it may be possible to hold a government entity or road construction company accountable for their actions if their negligence led to the crash. 

Government Entities and Roadway Responsibilities

Most of the roadway maintenance in Tennessee is the responsibility of a government entity. This could include the Tennessee Department of Transportation for state-maintained roadways. However, every county in Tennessee also has a transportation department, as do most major cities across the state.

These government entities could be held liable in the event debris causes a bicycle accident and leads to an injury for a rider. Local, county and state officials have a responsibility to maintain roadway safety, but there is a catch – they have to actually know that there is a hazard on the roadway.

Government entities will likely only be held liable for a bicycle accident caused by road debris if transportation authorities knew about a possible hazard and failed to take steps to promptly remedy the situation. If this can be proven, then it is possible to file a lawsuit against the government entity in Tennessee. However, doing so can be challenging.

Under Tennessee law, both state and local government entities can be sued in certain situations. Individuals may be able to file a claim with the Tennessee Claims Commission or through a personal injury lawsuit. These cases are subject to different rules than typical personal injury claims in this state.

Construction Companies and Tennessee Road Responsibility

Roadway construction is a common reality across the state of Tennessee. You cannot take a road trip for more than an hour without seeing some type of construction on the road. These construction companies have a responsibility to ensure roadway safety, including keeping debris off the roadway that could cause bicycle accidents.

If a construction company is careless or negligent and leaves debris on the roadway, and that debris subsequently causes a bicycle accident injury, it may be possible for the injury victim to file a personal injury lawsuit against the construction company.

Private Roads and Bike Crash Liability

There are certainly roadways that are not the responsibility of any type of government entity in Tennessee. Private roadways are maintained by either individuals or companies in this state. Even though private roads do not make up the vast majority of the road system in this state, bicycle accidents can still occur on these roadways. 

If an individual is injured by roadway debris on a private road in Tennessee, it may be possible to hold the owner of the road responsible for the incident. Again, it will need to be shown that the roadway owner knew that there was a hazard and failed to take steps to remedy the situation in a reasonably timely manner.