Loose Gravel on the Road can be a Biker and Motorcyclist worst Nightmare; Beware.

motorcycle riding on gravel
Gravel and Motorcycles do not mix.

If you are a biker or a motorcyclist, and you actually ride your motorcycle, you have probably had a run in with loose gravel on the road or a parking lot at some point or another. It can be a real bitch to say the least.

Talking to a new client this evening brought up some bad memories I have had riding though gravel in the past myself, not to mention the many cases I have handled of motorcycle accidents caused by loose gravel.

My new client, who we will call Lucy for this article, was a passenger on a motorcycle that was being driven by her ex-boyfriend that went down when they hit a patch of gravel.

He was pinned underneath the motorcycle, she was thrown off and suffered severe injuries.

I am representing Lucy the passenger.

As she described it, they were not riding fast, and they turned into onto a familiar street, and then the bike (a Harley Davidson) just kind of slid out from underneath them for no apparent reason. Once they were down they realized that they hit a patch of gravel. Both were injured.

As we all know or should know, a motorcycle only has 2 wheels that we balance on when riding. Unlike a car or other cage vehicle, generally a motorcycle’s 2 wheels have a very small tread area that actually contacts with the ground when we are riding. Yea I know that some of you have 200’s on the rear, or fat racing slicks on your sport motorcycle, but that is not the norm.

Most of us have a very small amount of tread that contact with the ground when we are riding. If we ride over loose gravel, sand, or rocks on the road, it can very well cause your motorcycle to slide out from under you and ruin your whole day.

My worst experience with gravel happened on a very lonely unnamed off ramp on Highway 40 in Arizona between Flagstaff and Kingman in the middle of the night. My then fiancé and I got off to get some gas. It was pitch dark. No lights at all except for my headlight. The gas station was on the other side of the interstate under a bridge. There was no light from it at all when I got off.

As I turned left my motorcycle slid out from under me. I am no expert rider, but I managed to keep the motorcycle up. I was scared shitless. Had we gone down, we could have been run over by someone speeding down the off ramp due to no light, or we could have been laying there for quite some time. We were literally in the middle of no where, in the middle of the night. (Just the way Bikers like it.)

When we got to the gas station I told my fiancé what happened. She was so tired that she had no clue that we almost ate it.

Who is at fault if an Accident is caused by loose gravel, or on the Road?

Generally the person operating the motorcycle has a duty of due care to ride the motorcycle safely on all surfaces, therefore the rider is responsible.

However, it can also be argued that it is reasonably foreseeable to private persons, private property owners, or governmental entitles, that loose gravel or sand on hard pavement can create a dangerous condition to persons riding motorcycles because these vehicles balance on two wheels only, and loose gravel or sand can cause them to go out of control.

In other words, an experienced Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Attorney such as me can and will go after a person or entity that knowingly puts loose gravel or sand on a road that is used by motorcycle riders, because it creates a dangerous condition that they either know about, or should know about.

This is a very good reason why you do not want to go to a garden variety personal injury attorney who advertises that they do motorcycle accident cases, but has no clue what it is to actually ride a motorcycle. Only a real biker and rider of motorcycles understands the gravel or sand problem as it relates to motorcycle riders. I understand the problem because I have experienced it.

So there it is; if you go down due to loose gravel or sand on a public or private road, or even a parking lot anywhere in California, you should give me a call for a free consultation at 800-816-1529 x. 1. I will tell you over the phone if you have a good case.

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, © 2010

8 thoughts on “Loose Gravel on the Road can be a Biker and Motorcyclist worst Nightmare; Beware.

  1. In other words, you are one of the attorneys that gives all of them a bad name. I actually came to your blog to see what types of things you had to say, but this actually makes me sick. Suing someone because the rider on the motorcycle can’t handle gravel? Then he shouldn’t have been on it! Can you get a settlement for your client? Probably. Should you be able to? Hell no! Sorry, but you appear to be a vulture…

  2. I will let you say your piece Mike because it makes my point about non-riders of motorcycles. You are prejudiced against us.

    Any real biker knows that no motorcycle rider, can control a motorcycle on a patch of unexpected gravel at speed or in a turn.

    So I am a vulture for helping people who were injured due to the negligence of another? I think not. Would you call a vulture like me if someone plowed into your car and injured you and your family, I think so.

    A vulture is an animal that scavenges dead animals to survive.

    My clients who get injured due to no fault of their own call me for help when they need it. Your Vulture analogy is way off base.


  3. I read your blog and I find very useful information. I had a motorcycle accident a few weeks ago because of the loose gravel on the road. I was pretty bad injured I had to flown in a helicopter to the hospital. I live in the state of KY and I was wondering if you can help me out. I’m not sure if you can give a hand with this referring me to a lawyer here in KY. THANKS

  4. As a new motorcycle rider (in my 40s), I can definitely tell you that there are a number of things that non-motorcyclists do not consider at all about motorcycles. These range from parking spaces (its difficult sometimes to park your bike and make sure its visible to others so that wont plow into it). This morning, I also encountered loose gravel and almost ate it. I wasn’t going fast, I slowed for the turn, per my motorcycle safety class, and still found myself slip from some loose sand. Luckily, I recovered from it, but I could have been seriously injured had the length of the sand spot been even a few inches longer. The city failed to maintain the road properly following a recent rain storm and I could have paid the price for it, just because I ride a motorcycle doesn’t mean that poor road maintenance should put me at risk, any more than driving a compact car means that I’m at fault if my car gets crushed in an accident with a larger vehicle. I drive an SUV and ride a motorcycle, my life isn’t work any less on my bike than it is in my Jeep.

  5. Not only are sand and gravel a problem, but my husband and I like to ride the country roads and people will bushhog their property and leave the grass on the road. That can be as hazardous as gravel and sand. People have no respect for motorcycles at all.

  6. I recently ran into a small patch of sand washed up on the road from recent rains. Although I knew about the dangers of loose grit (2nd most common cause of motorcycle accidents), I did not expect it to be as violent as it was. I pictured it as slide that occurred over 1-3 seconds. For me, it took less than a quarter of a second to go down. My speed was less than 15mph, and my protective gear prevented serious injuries, but I still required 10 stitches on my gashed elbow. Even at that low speed, my leather jacket abraded through 1.2mm of leather, the jacket lining, my shirt and then my skin.

    When I’m ready to start riding again, I will be adding shoulder, elbow, knee, shin and rib protection (I wish I had been wearing those during my accident). If you haven’t had an accident on your bike, you might not respect the fragility of your body, please consider wearing as much protective equipment as you can afford.

    As far as placing blame on anyone or any local government entity, my feelings are mixed. It isn’t practical for a city or county to ensure every foot of roadway is clear of all debris. Every time it rains, crews would have to go over every road in their jurisdiction to see what has washed up.

    However, if there is a construction site, or gravel driveway that CONSISTENTLY donates lots of debris to the main roadway, that could be the legitimate responsibility of the owner.

    Its really not the attorney’s responsibility to decide which case is actionable, PLUS, it the judge’s (or jury’s) decision to determine fault/blame in every case. If it’s a BS Case, it should caught at the courtroom.

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