Bicycling and the Law:  Good News for Bicyclists – Williams v. County of Sonoma Appeal


Bicycling and the Law: Four Tips to Recover a Fair Property Damage Settlement

There is good news for bicyclists in a new appeals court case (Catherine Williams V. County of Sonoma) that widely affects ALL bicyclists in California with regard to “Assuming the Risks of Dangerous Roadway conditions“. Read opinion.

There are current cases pending in CA, either in pre-litigation or litigation that shall benefit from this new Sweeping Appellate decision gutting the defense of a bicyclist “Assuming the Risks of Dangerous Roadway conditions“.

The California First District Court of Appeal, Division Five, in a published opinion, Monday rejected a claim by the County of Sonoma that recreational cyclists were barred by primary assumption of risk from asserting claims of dangerous condition of public property.  Catherine Williams suffered severe, permanent injuries when she struck a large pothole on county roads that a jury had determined amounted to a dangerous condition.  The jury then delivered a seven-figure verdict.   

Appellate specialist Alan Charles “Chuck” Dell’Ario represented Williams on appeal following an excellent trial presentation by CAOC members Todd Walburg and Celine Cutter. “This is an important victory for the cycling community statewide,” Dell’Ario said. “ All public entities have a duty not to increase the inherent risks of cycling.” 

Eris Weaver, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, hailed the victory. “As California burns, the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get people out of cars is visible in the smoky air. The vast increase in bike sales since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates great interest and willingness among our residents to shift their mode of transportation.. The ruling in this case affirms the rights of ALL users to safe transportation and puts cities and counties on notice that cyclists cannot be treated as second-class citizens.”  

Amicus curiae briefs were filed on both sides by CAOC for Williams and by the Association of Counties and League of Cities for the County.

Read Part 1 – Bicyclists’ Rights Against Public Entities: Potholes to Trails Part 1 – Procedure

Read Part 2 – Bicyclists’ Rights Against Public Entities: Potholes to Trails Part 2 – Potholes and Government Land

Read Part 3 – Bicyclists’ Rights Against Public Entities: Potholes to Trails Part 3 – Immunities Shield

Enjoy More Articles and Podcasts By Richard Duquette, Esq, Law Firm of Richard Duquette

About  the Law Firm of Richard L. Duquette

The Law Firm of Richard Duquette has recovered millions in damages for injured bicyclists since 1983. Attorney Duquette is an experienced bicyclist himself and has dedicated his practice to helping this community. He is experienced in all types of cases involving bicycle crashes, injuries, and other legal troubles.

Mr. Duquette serves a wide variety of bicyclists. Whether you prefer road cycling, mountain biking, track riding, Randonneuring, E-Bicycles, Handcycles, Century Rides, Triathlons, Duathlons, or Criterium, Mr. Duquette knows how to best serve your legal needs regardless of the type of bicyclist you are.

Mr. Duquette is an expert at maximizing, proving, and recovering damages. 

For more information please visit the Law Firm of Richard Duquette.

The information in this article is for general information purposes only. The focus of this article is on California Law. You should contact an attorney in your state for case-specific advice, as details of the law and procedural requirements vary from state to state. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship; and the receipt, reading, listening, or viewing of this content shall not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in this article shall be construed as a warrant, promise, or guarantee about the outcome of your case or any other matter. This information may contain personal impressions or statements of opinion on a subject that do not apply in your case. Further, statements of law reflect the current state of the law at the time of writing and/or recording, and may not reflect subsequent changes in the law.