$3.2M Verdict to Victim of a Bicycle Crash at a Charity Event

A New Jersey man has been awarded a $3.2 million jury award as compensation for severe spinal injuries he suffered in a bicycle crash while participating in a charity bicycle ride in Philadelphia in 2015.

The victim, Anthony Degliomini, was riding his bike on May 17, 2015 as part of a 20-mile-long Phillies Charities Bike Ride when his bicycle wheels went into a sinkhole along the route in the 200 block of Pattison Avenue, causing him to strike the asphalt and suffer spinal cord injuries that resulted in partial paralysis, according to a March 15 story by The Legal Intelligencer.

Degliomini had signed a liability waiver before participating in the charity event, which normally would preclude a plaintiff from filing a lawsuit related to an event or activity, but the jury was swayed by photographs of the sizable sinkhole which the cyclist had struck, according to the story. “Degliomini struck the sinkhole, which he contended had not been marked in any way,” the report continued.

The plaintiffs argued that “since the sinkhole had existed for at least nine months before the accident and had not been specified in the waiver, liability for the sinkhole had not been waived,” the story stated.

bicycle crash injuries

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/courtneyk

Degliomini, who was 53 at the time of the crash, was knocked unconscious by the impact and suffered multiple facial lacerations as well as spinal cord injuries. He was taken by ambulance to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he underwent immediate surgery to stop swelling in his spine and a fusion procedure that included implanting screws and rods, the story reported. After five days in the hospital, he was transferred to a rehabilitation facility where he was continued treatment for almost three weeks. He now walks with a pronounced limp and has post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a pretrial memo.

After an eight-day trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the jury awarded Degliomini $1.4 million in lost wages, $1 million in noneconomic damages and more than $675,000 in medical expenses. His wife, Karen, was awarded $100,000 for loss of consortium. The jury found the City of Philadelphia, which owns and maintains the roadway, 90 percent liable for his injuries, while the event organizer, ESM Productions, was found to be 10 percent liable.

This case has some good legal lessons for everyone, when it comes to liability waivers for events and activities, but it depends on the circumstances.

Typically, if you sign a liability waiver for an event or buy a ticket to a baseball game or other event, the participant agrees to terms such as accepting the risks in the activity and not being able to sue if they are hurt. That’s a risk one takes if you are hit by a foul ball, for instance. That’s a natural risk of attending such an event, so that waiver would be legally binding.

However, if you go to a game and the sports facility owners fail to maintain a clean facility and you slip on a slippery substance and are hurt, that is a different situation because it would not be a risk that is inherent in the activity you attended. The mess should have been cleaned up before someone was injured and was not a risk you were asked to accept under the terms of the waiver.

In the case of this bicyclist, his bike struck the sinkhole or pothole and he was seriously hurt. His signing of the waiver came some nine months after the city already knew of the damage in the street and did nothing to fix it, according to the case.

If the man had left the starting line at the bike ride and collided with another cyclist, he would likely have had no lawsuit because the risk of such an incident would have been inherent to such an event. But striking a pre-existing sinkhole was not protected by the waiver he signed since it was not a risk that could be construed as directly related to the event. The city had a legal obligation in this case to be sure the streets are safe to ride and use.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in any kind of vehicle incident anywhere in the United States. We pledge to make sure that you and your family get the compassionate, dogged and experienced legal representation that you deserve and expect from a professional legal team which works hard to uncover every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-789-9346 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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