Dangerous Road Condition Accident Lawyers
Dangerous roadway cases are complex, often contested, and governed by a strict statute of limitations. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a dangerous road condition, it is critical to consult with a lawyer right away – you need an attorney with experience in handling lawsuits against government entities, like the lawyers at TorkLaw.
Poor Road Conditions Kill Thousands Each Year
According to TRIP, a private nonprofit research organization focusing on surface transportation issues, poor road conditions are a contributing factor in one-third of traffic fatalities in the United States each year. In 2017, there were 37,133 traffic fatalities in the U.S. That means that dangerous roadway conditions killed over 12,000 people in 2017 alone.
TRIP rates 33 percent of major urban roads in the United States as being in poor condition, and only 31 percent of roads to be in good condition. The large urban areas with the worst roads in the country are:
- San Francisco-Oakland, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
- Milwaukee, WI
- Honolulu, HI
- Akron, OH
- Cleveland, OH
- New York/Newark, NY/NJCT
- Providence, RI-MA
- Philadelphia, PA/NJ/DE/MD
Liability in Dangerous Roadway Accidents
Most often, dangerous roadways cases involve poor maintenance by the entity responsible for maintaining the road, whether it is an urban street, rural road, intersection, highway, exit, guardrail, or lack of guardrail. The “entity responsible” is usually a government agency.
Such lawsuits can be difficult for a few reasons. For one, most government agencies, including states and the federal government, have governmental or sovereign immunity from lawsuits; in other words, they cannot be sued.
However, there are exceptions to immunity, and usually, negligence in roadway maintenance is such an exception that allows a plaintiff to sue.
One complication to bringing a claim against the government for injury or property damage due to road conditions is that the rules allowing plaintiffs to do so are different in each state.
If the circumstance allow a suit against the government agency, another complication that all legal actions have a “statute of limitations.” This is the time limit within in which the court will allow the plaintiff to sue.
Most states have a very short statute of limitations for injury claims based on faulty road conditions, typically from six months.
Then, plaintiffs must prove four elements to show a public entity is liable for injuries and damages caused by dangerous road condition:
1. The public entity owned or controlled the road(s) involved in the accident
Different areas of the same road often fall under the purview of different government agencies, and it can be difficult to figure out who to sue in these cases. For another, However, the public entity and their employees have immunity from lawsuits that make handling these cases more difficult.
2. The roads involved were in a dangerous condition at the time of the accident
This is usually proved by evidence, such as photographs or video, and/or witness testimony.
3. The dangerous condition caused the accident
In addition to photographic or video evidence and witness testimony, it is also helpful to have an affidavit or testimony by an accident reconstructionist who investigated the accident.
4. The public entity had sufficient notice to repair the dangerous condition, but neglected to do so
For a public entity to be held liable for a dangerous road, an employee of the public entity must have had notice of the defect in sufficient time to fix it.
There are two types of notice, that can prove liability: The first is “actual” notice, in which there is direct evidence that the public entity, through its employees, were informed or had clear knowledge of the defect. This may be established if there were prior reports of the dangerous condition from citizens.
The second type of notice is “constructive” notice: the condition existed long enough and was of such an obvious nature that the public entity should have known about it. Evidence to prove constructive notice includes whether an adequate inspection and maintenance system would have revealed the condition.
TorkLaw can help make sense of all the complicated issues involved in proving liability in a dangerous roadway case. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you obtain appropriate and thorough medical care for physical, emotional, and psychological injuries you suffered in your accident. We will do everything possible to obtain full compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, property damage, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and all other injuries and damages.
Call us today for a FREE consultation: 888.845.9696.