More often than not, driver negligence is the leading cause of car collisions, but poor road conditions can also contribute. Anything from a poorly designed layout to missing guardrails can lead to horrific accidents. However, proving that poor road conditions were responsible for an accident is no simple task. Below, we discuss what your legal options are.
Common Poor Road Conditions Leading to Accidents
Every road is unique but common themes emerge when it comes to accidents caused by poor road conditions. Here are some of the most prevalent issues:
- Potholes. Most states are plagued with potholes, and even the smallest one can burst a tire and cause a driver to lose control.
- Root intrusion. Trees along the side of the road can root underneath and crack the surface, which leads to bumps in the road and likely accidents.
- Poor signage. Signs tell motorists what to expect and how to be prepared, so improper signage can have devastating consequences.
- Unreasonably narrow lanes. If a lane isn’t wide enough, vehicles may collide with other lanes of traffic and cause deadly crashes.
- Obstruction/overgrowth blocking the road. Anything that blocks a driver’s vision or ability to navigate the road can cause a fatal accident.
Once we know what the cause of the accident was, it puts us in a better position to start working out who the negligent party is.
Figuring Out Who Is At Fault
Roads are maintained by states, counties, and cities. In certain states, multiple agencies can share responsibility. For example, a city may be responsible for de-icing and plowing snow, while the state is in charge of filling potholes and other road repairs.
Given the difference in responsibility across the US, figuring out the at-fault party isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have one of your expert personal injury lawyers on your team. We will thoroughly investigate the accident and view the circumstances from different angles by collecting documentation and liaising with crash experts.
Once we’ve established that poor road conditions were to blame for the accident, we have to establish a clear link between the responsible agency and negligent actions. Essentially, this means demonstrating that the agency knew about the problem and had plenty of time to fix it or issue warnings and didn’t. Alternatively, it may mean proving there was a severe lapse of safety judgment during the design process.
Let’s say there is a clear paper trail proving that a road’s surface is cracking and deteriorating, and if the state fails to act, then parts of the road could cave in. If this issue causes an accident without appropriate measures being taken, including closing the road or making repairs, the state could be liable for damages. However, if a streetlight fell over in a storm and caused an accident, the state couldn’t have known about the issue, and it becomes much more challenging to find evidence of negligence.
Can You Sue the Responsible Party?
The majority of government agencies, at the state and federal levels, are immune from lawsuits without permission. In most cases, this permission is granted through an administrative claim process, which must be completed before filing a lawsuit.
When it comes to civil lawsuits or claims, some actions can’t be used as the foundation for the argument. However, clear negligence regarding roadway maintenance is the type of action that can be used as a ground for a claim. However, there may be a series of constraints including having to prove that the negligence was gross or clear.
Each state has very clear rules covering the process for claiming compensation from local or state-level government agencies. Although the steps may differ slightly, they typically involve a short notification timeframe, by which time evidence needs to be presented alongside the amount of compensation requested.
You may find a claim form to fill out, in paper or digital format, or there may be a simple list of everything you need to include in a claim. While you can do a simple Google search to find out where to start the process, we recommend getting in touch with our law firm first. We have around 40 years’ worth of experience standing up for victims and challenging the system.
Thousands of motorists use roads daily, and they should be able to do so without worrying about poor road conditions. When a government agency is responsible for causing a crash, we will make sure you receive the compensation owed to you.
To get started, visit our office today at 16633 Ventura Blvd. #602 Encino, CA 91436
Or call now for a free consultation on (818) 659-8588.