Who’s Liable When Road Conditions Cause a Car Accident?

Negligent driving is a leading cause of car accidents, but dangerous crashes also occur due to poor road conditions. These include issues other than bad weather. Depending on the case, a city, county, or state government agency (or other person/entity) may be liable for damages. We’ll look at who may be responsible when road conditions contribute to a car accident.

Road Conditions that Cause Accidents

A wide range of hazards can lead to car accidents. Some common examples include:

  • Potholes: A pothole can be small and barely noticeable or large enough to cause you to lose control of your car. They can also cause serious damage to vehicles. Liability depends on who is responsible for fixing the pothole or warning of it. If a city agency failed to de-ice roads or remove gravel, it could be responsible. But if a pothole wasn’t fixed by a state agency required to do so, it may have to pay for your damages. A road crew may be liable if it did not properly warn of the condition while working in the area.
  • Road Debris: Whether visibility is limited, it’s dark outside, or traffic is moving at high speeds, road debris can be hard to spot. There are all kinds of debris on roads. That includes tires, parts of vehicles, household items, and things as large as detached trailers or campers. The liable party depends on who caused the debris to be there. If it’s construction debris, a contractor may be liable, while vehicular debris can be the driver’s fault or, in some cases, a manufacturer’s.
  • Poor Maintenance: Government agencies are responsible for maintaining heavily trafficked roads. If routine maintenance is neglected, eroded pavement, missing signage, missing guardrails, faded street markings, and malfunctioning traffic lights can increase the risk of car accidents. Far too often, agencies don’t fix small problems until they become larger issues.
  • Poor Road Planning: A road’s design can be inherently dangerous. For example, if an agency approved a road to be built near a shoreline prone to erosion, it may be liable if this contributed to an accident. Sharp curves, high grades, and unusual traffic patterns can also help establish liability for poor road planning.

How To Determine Liability for Poor Road Conditions

The first step is to determine who is responsible for your accident. This can be a government entity if the road was poorly maintained, another driver if a poorly fastened object came loose and caused an accident, or a truck operator if they overloaded a trailer, blew out a tire, or fastened cargo improperly. 

Then you have to prove the party in question was negligent. When establishing a claim against an agency or business, you must prove they knew about the problem or should have known about a persistent issue. Determining liability also requires proving the entity failed to take action and make repairs in a reasonable amount of time. 

However, your lawsuit may be in jeopardy if you were somehow at fault for the accident. For example, you didn’t see a pothole because you were texting and driving. Therefore, you’ll need to have every detail of the accident ready when filing your claim. Most agencies and construction companies have strong legal defense teams able to argue against any liability on their part.

How to File a Lawsuit for Poor Road Conditions

Filing a lawsuit against a government agency can be difficult. Many are immune from legal action and require permission to sue them. This may sound counterintuitive. But how you proceed is the all-important factor. You’ll need to follow the agency’s process for filing an administrative claim; you may receive compensation via this route. If not, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the agency.

The deadlines and procedures for filing an administrative claim can be tricky. That’s why it’s best to have a Los Angeles car accident attorney represent you. They can explore your legal options and assist in filing your claim. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident so they can evaluate your claim and take immediate action.

Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani

Our attorneys will help prove liability and maximize the chances of recovering damages from an agency or other entity responsible for poor road conditions. We’ve helped car accident victims recover millions of dollars in damages. Familiar with all applicable laws, our team acts quickly to build your claim and meet the statute of limitations. Call 888-952-2952 to set up your free consultation.

Share This Post!