OPINION ISSUED OCTOBER 4, 1985
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
James A. Matish, Attorney at Law, for claimant.
Andrew Lopez, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
Claimant is a bicycle enthusiast and claims $3,000 for bicycle
damage and personal injury. On August 18, 1984, he was riding his
bicycle northerly on U.S. Route 19 beneath a U.S. Route 50 overpass
at Clarksburg, Harrison County. The weather was clear and dry and
his view unobstructed, but he failed to see a sewer grate which
extended about five feet out into the highway from the right edge
of the pavement. The parallel openings of the grate were parallel
to the edge of the pavement. The front wheel of his bicycle dropped
into the grate opening furthest from the right edge of the
pavement. The bicycle was damaged, and he suffered a separated
shoulder and chipped tooth as a result of falling from the bicycle.
His explanation, of failing to see the grating, was that he was
coming down a hill, approaching a traffic light and watching for
cars on his left.
In the presentation of his case, it was intimated, but not proven,
that the sewer grating was incorrectly installed; that it should
have been installed with the grate openings perpendicular to the
edge of the highway.
The Court has consistently held that the State is neither an
insurer nor a guarantor of the safety of persons travelling on its
highways. Adkins vs. Sims, 130 W.Va. 645 (1947). The Court
perceives no negligence on the part of the respondent in this case,
and the claim must be denied.