Negligent driving is the most common cause of car accidents. However, poor road conditions play a role in many. Deteriorating roads are a problem throughout California; in 2022, 44% of roads analyzed here by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) were in poor condition, the worst in the country. When an accident happens due to a road defect, proving who is liable can be a challenge.
Types of Road Conditions That Lead to Accidents
To file a lawsuit, you must first know who’s responsible for road maintenance and preventing the hazard that contributed to the crash. Depending on the roadway, it may be maintained by the state, county, or city. Oftentimes, multiple governmental agencies share responsibility for road maintenance. Some of the most common types of conditions that lead to vehicular accidents on roads include:
- Poor Design: If a curve is too sharp or the grade too steep, it can increase the risk of accidents. Proper signage is crucial as well. Failing to place a sign that warns of a sharp curve or bridge that’s likely to freeze over before the main road can be a liability. Is the state, engineer, or road crew liable?
- Lack of Maintenance: A poorly maintained road may have crumbling asphalt, be uneven, or be prone to flooding. While one agency may be responsible for paving, another may be responsible for de-icing and snow plowing. Knowing the difference is key to filing an injury claim and suing a liable party.
- Potholes: Potholes present many challenges on the legal front. Even if a road is well-maintained, a pothole can form very quickly, especially after a freeze/thaw event. A government agency must have a “reasonable” amount of time to discover and resolve the condition before being considered liable.
Other examples of road conditions that can cause accidents include:
- Confusing/Damaged/Faded Road Signs
- Missing Traffic Signals
- Broken/Missing Guardrails
- Lack of Lighting at Night
- Mismanaged Landscaping
- Low/Improperly Marked Bridges
Who Can I Sue?
If road conditions caused your accident that led to injuries and/or damages, you’ll want to be compensated. When another motorist didn’t cause the accident, another liable party may be:
- A private company with a government contract to build, fix, or maintain the road.
- A private landowner if an accident took place on a private roadway.
- A manufacturer of, for example, defective guardrails or signs.
Oftentimes, the party directly responsible or liable via a chain of causation is a government agency. Most government agencies are immune from lawsuits. Even if you can sue the government, you must go through an administrative claims process; this essentially means you must get permission from the agency to sue them. Filing a civil lawsuit usually requires proving any type of negligence was so obvious it cannot be disproven.
The rules for filing a claim against a government agency differ in each state. But every state has rules for compensating victims for losses, which include notifying the proper entity within a set amount of time, where and when the accident occurred, and what you’re asking for in compensation. The process may require filing out the agency’s claim form or providing information from a list to include in your claim.
Why You Need a Lawyer When Road Conditions Caused Your Accident
If a road defect led to your accident, filing a claim with multiple entities may be feasible. This of course requires patience and legal knowledge. Whether the crash occurs on a rural or urban road, a small road or highway, or due to whatever caused the bad road conditions, having a lawyer improves the odds of being fairly compensated for your losses.
Contact the Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani has awarded millions of dollars in damages to car, motorcycle, bus, pedestrian, and truck accident victims over the years. We know how to hold liable parties accountable and get insurance companies and government agencies to pay up. To schedule your free consultation, call 888-952-2952 today.