published Friday, July 29th, 2011

Tennessee liable for $20,000 in injuries sustained by Cleveland, Tenn., bicyclist, appeals court rules

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The state of Tennessee is liable for more than $20,000 in injuries sustained by a Cleveland, Tenn., bicyclist whose wheels fell through a metal drainage grate, the Tennessee Court of Appeals at Knoxville ruled Thursday.

Plaintiff Beth L. Wineland suffered a broken nose and jaw and serious facial lacerations and damaged four teeth in the summer of 2006 while riding along Highway 60 in Cleveland, Tenn., the facts of the case show. The front wheel of her road bike slipped between the bars of the grate, which run parallel to the direction of traffic.

Wineland contended the "old-style" grate constituted a dangerous condition and alleged negligence in maintaining the highway.

The Circuit Court for Bradley County found that neither the state nor Cleveland had a duty to change the grate and dismissed the case.

The appeals court, however, found the state had known of the danger posed by such grates as early as 1990 and mentioned it in a long-range plan introduced at the trial. The court ruled that was enough notice for the state to have corrected the problem and remanded the case for determination of damages to be awarded to Wineland.

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jsnewman said...

This is why we need to clearly define that cyclist DO NOT have the same rights to the roads as motor vehicles. This stupid notion that has been perpetuated has to stop. Now it is costing us money. Bicycles aren't licensed, or regulated, do pay not registration or fuel surtaxes to fund road construction. That’s not even mentioning the fact that they often ride on roads where they impede traffic and cause a general nuisance.

July 29, 2011 at 1:11 p.m.
Schizm said...

JSNewman, you obviously need to read up on the law. Bicyclists rights are very clearly defined and they do have most of the same rights as motorized vehicles. As for saying they should be licensed, why? How much damage does the average bicyclist have the capability of inflicting? Nothing remotely on the scale that motor vehicles can cause. And next I believe you complained that bicycles don't pay fuel taxes? Seriously, I can't believe you even wrote such an obviously pointless statement. Besides fuel taxes pay for the upkeep of our roads and bicycles don't put wear and tear on the roads like cars and trucks do. And from your last statement it's pretty obvious you've never been much of a bicyclist. To even call a cyclist a nuisance it makes it pretty clear that you must not give cyclists the required legal three or more feet of passing room. Besides, all of these holes in your earlier statement, most municipalities do not allow bicycles on sidewalks and since they do in fact have a legal right to share regular roads, you should be greatful some people aren't using up as much gas as you in your vehicle, and are getting some exercise at the same time. Of course I should also point out in a lawsuit like this $20,000 is grossly over compensating someone for what is more than likely a problem with them not having common sense to go around the grate or get off their bike when they should have. Or they weren't paying attention and their negligence is what cause the accident in the first place. Goodness knows I've never been dumb enough to try and ride across a grate that's parallel to the flow of traffic.

July 29, 2011 at 1:54 p.m.
Schizm said...

Oh, and here is the handbook on cycling laws anyone can read up.

July 29, 2011 at 2:09 p.m.
jsnewman said...

I stated, “We need to clearly define that cyclist DO NOT have the same rights to the roads as motor vehicles.” My desire would be to redefine state statutes. Roads are constructed for primarily for motorized vehicles not bicycles. I am well aware of the laws. You can hold those little state handbooks in your with all your might but that doesn’t make anyone riding any safer. There are some roads that cyclist have no business on. If riders want respect they should be respectful of conditions as well. The State of Tennessee cannot be held responsible for every road hazard that puts a cyclist in peril. I totally understand your zeal but you misread my comments. I have ridden many miles and avidly rode since the 80s. I have experienced the tragedy of loosing a friend while riding. Bike safety is paramount but the overzealous nature biking community is absolutely ridiculous and protects no one. At the end of the day... Tax payers are on the hook for 20K because a cyclist wasn’t paying attention.

July 29, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.
lewvino said...

The actual appeal descision can be found and read on the web. Tennessee has designated itself as a Bicycle friendly state, Roads are considered to be bicycle routes. The law actually states that the bicyclist has to ride as far to the right as possible accept when turning left, or passing.

You might be interested in reading the entire case. The article is not accurate in NO MONEY has been awarded yet. It was remanded back to the local court for awardment. Also the state has 60 days to appeal. The person that was injured actually had the bicycle safety helmet crack open from the impact, suffered a broken nose, broken jaw and facialy lacerations.

Sorry that you lost a friend while riding but take a look at this actual appeal before making blanket statements.

July 29, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.
lewvino said...

Schizm stated "I should also point out in a lawsuit like this $20,000 is grossly over compensating someone." again if you look at the actual case $20,000 was the actual cost of the MEDICAL BILLS as a result of the accident in this injury. This would be compensatation back to the insurance companies and out of pocket expenses after deductables and co-pay. The person injured would not receive the entire $20,000.

July 29, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.
ogdred said...

"Tax payers are on the hook for 20K because a cyclist wasn’t paying attention."

How do you know the cyclist wasn't paying attention? If you're following traffic and a car is to your left and the grate is in front of you, are you going to swerve your bike into the car next to you to avoid the grate?

July 29, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
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