If you are an Atlanta cyclist and ride along the shoulder of Howell Mill Road, you will see first- hand a City of Atlanta nuisance. As reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (“AJC”), about 50 feet south of the Peachtree Creek bridge is a hazardous storm grate. If you travel this stretch of road, you will see that there are two storm grates. One is correctly place so that the grates run perpendicular to traffic. The other storm grate, however, poses a severe hazard because the grates run parallel to traffic.
As an experienced Georgia injury lawyer, I cannot overemphasis how dangerous this condition is. The danger occurs when a cyclist’s tire gets stuck in the grate. This can cause the cyclist to lose control and veer into oncoming traffic. It goes without saying that a whole host of catastrophic bicycle injuries can occur when cyclists loose control of their bike and collide with cars. Some common resulting injuries are coma, concussion, closed head injuries, traumatic brain injury ((“TBI”), broken bones, road rash, severe lacerations, and even death.
While governmental agencies such as the State of Georgia, local counties such as Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Clayton and the City of Atlanta enjoy a certain amount of immunity from wrongful acts and negligence due to their special status as municipalities, many times they are liable for the damages caused by a nuisance, such as the above example. However, when the negligent acts result in a nuisance, if not corrected once the municipality knows, or should know, of the dangerous condition, the city, county or state can be held accountable. For instance, in the case of the grates discussed above, once the City of Atlanta (or whichever local municipality which is charged with the care and upkeep of the roadway and grate system) is aware of the problem, they must correct the dangerous condition. Failing to do so, under the laws of Georgia, this dangerous roadway situation now constitutes a nuisance and the injured party can pursue the municipality for damages. In Georgia, the damages recoverable on account of a nuisance are all the direct damages resulting from the nuisance, including personal injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and in the proper case, attorneys’ fees and expenses of litigation.
It is essential to send an anti-litem notice to the municipality as soon as you become aware of your claim and that a governmental entity may be liable for your injuries. The time to do this varies, but one thing is for sure, if you miss the deadline to send the anti-litem notice to the governmental entity, you are almost always precluded from pursuing the claim agains the government entity in a lawsuit. To be safe, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you as soon as possible so that all deadlines and statutes of limitations are complied with.