Liability for Car Accidents Caused by Poor Road Conditions
While negligent drivers are the cause of most car accidents, poor road conditions may also contribute as another common factor. State, local, and federal agencies can be held accountable for lack of proper road maintenance. This is one of many reasons why a driver should always pay attention to the road in order to have enough time to avoid road hazards that can trigger an accident.
Common road hazards that create dangerous driving conditions include:
- Pavement erosion
- Missing traffic signs
- Faded lane markings
- Poorly maintained construction zones
- Damaged guardrails
- Malfunctioning traffic signals
- Road shoulder
- Failure to plow, salt, or de-ice roads
Some roadway design flaws that can raise the risk of accidents include:
- Overly sharp curves
- Dim lighting
- Short on-ramps or merging lanes
- Lack of warning signsfor dangerous conditions
If you are injured due to these issues, a government entity may be held responsible for your injuries. Cases against government agencies tend to be more complicated than a typical car accident. Our experienced attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you determine precisely what entity should be held accountable.
Who Is Responsible for Road Maintenance?
In California, state, local, and federal government entities have the duty of maintaining a safe roadway for motorists. Government agencies may be held liable for a car accident if the incident took place on a poorly constructed road.
The victim must prove that dangerous road conditions were directly the cause of the accident, along with how the agency exhibited acts of negligence for allowing motorists to occupy roads that contain such hazards.
For example, a well-documented erosion occurs near a local lake. Although multiple reports have been made about potential safety problems, the state does nothing about it. You’re driving along the road when suddenly it starts to buckle underneath you, thus triggering an accident. In this case, the state may be responsible for the damages and/or injuries caused by the hazardous road condition. If the weather or a natural and unavoidable occurrence, like a tree falling onto the road, prompts the accident, it is much more challenging to prove negligence.
To recover compensation for damages and/or injuries, you’ll need to prove that the agency responsible for road maintenance was negligent in their duties. Identifying who is at-fault is the first step. However, the criteria of “reasonably safe” conditions are often subject to interpretation, which is why these types of lawsuits are often challenging to win. It is necessary to demonstrate that the agency accountable for the accident failed to act on its obligation to make the repairs in a reasonable amount of time.
The best way to do this is to search government survey records collected and conducted regularly to evaluate road conditions. These records can help identify whether or not the road hazard existed before the date of your accident. The records will also show how long the agency has known about the problem. Furthermore, obtaining information on the whereabouts of the road and the type of hazard present in that particular area are essential factors to incorporate into your case.
Government agencies are granted a certain amount of time to make repairs or respond to a hazard that exists on the road. Suppose you can demonstrate that the agency failed to properly notify motorists of a risk or a safety-related defect associated with the road’s construction. In that case, they can be held liable for the accident.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, having one of our trusted personal injury attorneys on your side provides a considerable advantage against these government entities. Our legal team can speak with someone at the county commissioner’s office on your behalf and determine who should be held liable for lack of proper road maintenance.
Filing a Claim
Once you or your lawyer has determined the entity that will be held liable for the accident, the entity should be notified of your claim immediately. The government agency you’re filing against may have its own form for you to complete. This process can vary and depends on the rules set in the state, county, or city where the accident took place. You can start by doing your research, searching phrases like “claims against [name of state/city/county]” to gain more information.
Even if you decide against filing a claim, reporting dangerous road conditions is crucial to ensuring other motorists’ safety. Your report could save hundreds, if not thousands of lives from a collision.
If you want to consult with one of our personal injury attorneys, they can help you navigate the tricky waters of dangerous road condition lawsuits. To prepare for your consultation, collect all information relevant to your case.
Some examples of relevant information or evidence include:
- The location and name of the road
- Witness information
- The direction in which you were driving
- A description of the physical characteristics of the hazard (depth, length, width, etc.)
- Any and all records, including medical bills, police reports, tickets, and vehicle repair costs
In every state, a statute of limitations exists, limiting the amount of time in which you can file a claim. Allowing the statute of limitations to pass could result in you losing your opportunity to move forward with your case and gain financial compensation. Most states, cities, and counties have brief statute of limitation periods that are often considerably shorter than claims made against non-governmental agencies.
Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers Today
Filing a claim with multiple entities may be necessary if you’re unsure whether the state, county, or city of where the accident occurred is responsible for poor road conditions. It is imperative to contact an attorney who can adequately assist you with these often tricky claims.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident due to poor road conditions, our team of skilled personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you get the compensation you deserve for damages, which includes medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today at (888) 679-1973 or email [email protected] to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.