Bike-Share Programs – Does Government Immunity Protect a City from Liability?

As roads and highways become congested, bike-share programs are becoming more popular. Unsafe bike conditions can make sharing programs more hazardous, so it is important to consider whether government immunity for the city will suffice.


Immunity from the State Government

When plaintiffs want to sue bike-sharing program backers for injuries, the city government can grant and apply immunity for civil litigation purposes. This immunity will prevent a lawsuit from ever taking place as it will end the possibility of litigating. This is possible because of certain criteria set by the state government. Before immunity can be granted or maintained, the state might have to follow guidelines or prevent negligence. This process may be further explained by a lawyer.

The Bike Sharing Program Waiver

If a waiver is strong enough to prevent litigation, it’s often unlikely that there will be any. A waiver may be included in the bike-sharing program that eliminates liability to the city government. This could also strengthen the immunity the state should have for these types of situations. With the signature of the individual, the waiver is a contract between participants and the program. It removes all liability concerns. Only gross negligence or a special circumstance can give rise to a claim for injury.

The Bike Sharing Program explained

If a city offers a bicycle to others through a program where payment is required, it can be held responsible for various liability issues. The bikes are purchased from the city government if the city is either the organizer or the supporter. This can result in a lawsuit against the department concerned. It is important for the city that litigation be prevented in every way possible. This includes purchasing insurance, educating citizens, and using waivers.

The Injury and the Program

Depending on the issue, a city can be held responsible for the bike-sharing program. Some program participants will ride the bike, and some may be injured in a car accident. Bike defects can cause injury to others. The injury is important when connected to the bike sharing program because it must have relevance and a direct connection for the city to face a valid lawsuit. Many cities will face litigation even with government immunity. This is because there are gaps in this immunity and when it doesn’t apply to negligence or defective products.

City Government Immunity: How It Works

Before the victim of a bike sharing program can even think to sue the city government, he or she will need to determine how much time is available for the case. The statute of limitations is generally shorter, with a maximum of 30 days and a minimum of 120 days from the date of injury. Personal injury cases typically have at least one year. A Notice of Claim must be submitted by the victim. It must contain certain criteria based on the city and state.

Even if the plaintiff is negligent, the city government can still be exempt from any lawsuit. In the event of injury to a product or damage to government property, the government can be held harmless from litigation. Any control of the property from the government can pass immunity onto the incident. If the city is responsible, this can make it impossible for the plaintiff to file a lawsuit. It is usually easier to sue other parties if there are involved.

Legal Support for the City Government

To sue the city for damages, the victim must have a lawyer who is familiar with government litigation. The lawyer will need extensive research and explanations.

Updated 12/2/2021