Poor road conditions like potholes may cause damage to your vehicle and lead to an accident. The accident may lead to severe injuries to the driver and other vehicle occupants. If you or a loved one suffers injuries in a car accident resulting from poor road conditions, you may file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation. Poor road conditions may result from various factors. Some of the causes of poor road conditions include faulty road design, defective construction, poor road maintenance, and poor adoption of changing circumstances. Personal injury cases involving poor road conditions are often tricky and expensive. Government bodies in charge of maintaining the roads often have strong defenses in place. Orange County Personal Injury Attorney assists individuals who may have suffered injuries in car accidents due to poor road conditions to seek compensation.
Types of Dangerous Road Conditions
Dangerous road conditions may arise due to several factors. Most road hazards often storm from faulty road design, construction, and poor maintenance of the roads:
Defective Road Design
Roads with poor designs may confuse drivers and other road users, leading to accidents. Some of the hazardous road designs include dangerous curves in the road layout. A road may also have dangerous slopes and dips in the road layout. Car accidents may occur if roads have hazards obstructing visibility, mainly at the crosswalks and intersections. Street drop-offs like cliffs or ravines are also hazardous and may lead to accidents. Car accidents may occur on roads with missing or defective guardrails, especially in construction zones. If the entrance and the exit ramps on the road are too short and do not allow safe merging, accidents are likely to occur. Road pavements should have adequate skid resistance.
Car accidents due to poor road conditions may occur due to improper drainage, leading to unsafe street surfaces. Hydroplaning and ponding on the roads may lead to car accidents. Warning signage serves an essential role in preventing car accidents. With absent, defective, or inappropriate warning signage, car accidents may occur. Other causes of car accidents include poor placing of highway traffic signals and shoulders that are not visibly distinctive from the road.
Defective Road Construction
In addition to poor road design, poor road construction is also a leading cause of car accidents in California. Faulty road construction may result if the road construction experts fail to follow the approved road construction plans. If the construction experts use sub-standard or shoddy road construction materials, the result is defective road construction. Poor workmanship or hiring inexperienced and poorly trained personnel to construct the road may lead to faulty road construction.
Defective Road Maintenance
Upon construction of roads, the roads require constant maintenance to ensure that they are always in good working condition. If the government or the agency responsible for maintaining the roads neglects them, their condition will deteriorate. Defective maintenance may result in allowing the surface of the road to wear out and develop potholes. Failing to maintain the guardrails and failure to replace the broken guardrails may lead to hazardous conditions. Conditions like erosion, lowered visibility of painted makers call for an early repair. It is also important to deal with dangerous highway traffic control lights. Whenever road signage and warnings deteriorate or fall off, the government should install new signage or renovate the existing ones.
Failure to Adapt
The government or agents responsible for maintaining the roads should always be attentive and constantly observe changing road conditions. For instance, the government should be the first to notice incidences of road subsidence or sinking and correct such incidences on a timely basis. Other road conditions that call for timely response include road cave-ins. The government should never ignore the fact that car accidents keep occurring at certain spots on the road.
Responsibility for Keeping Roads Safe
In most instances, the city, county, state, or federal government is responsible for maintaining the roads under their jurisdiction. If a government entity fails to maintain the roads, and an accident occurs; as a result, the entity is liable for failing to conduct the right road maintenance. Drivers or passengers suffer injuries in such an accident; they may file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation from the government.
In most states, including California, certain state laws allow the government some reasonable period to learn about poor road conditions. The law also gives the government a reasonable amount of time within which to repair the dangerous road conditions. The reasonable time for the government to act will depend on the unique facts of each case.
A government may be able to discover bad and dangerous road conditions in various ways. By conducting regular surveys of the road conditions regularly, the government can identify poor road conditions. The government may also rely on reports by people in the community who may have observed the poor road conditions. The government may also depend on the regular maintenance routines on the roadways to identify roads that require repair.
At times, the government may claim that it never discovered a poor road condition. In this instance, the government would still be liable for the damages sustained in accidents resulting from poor road conditions. The government is liable if the poor road condition should have been discovered within a reasonable period. If a dangerous road condition existed for a long period and the government out to have discovered it, the government might be liable. The liability may hold even if the government was not aware that the dangerous condition existed.
First Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If you get into a car accident due to dangerous road conditions, you will need to contact an attorney immediately. Your personal injury attorney may start by securing your vehicle. Your attorney may also contact an expert who has experience in crashworthiness and road design to weigh your case. The expert may consider various factors, including the angle and the speed at which your vehicle may have left the road. It is essential to have the skid marks photographed and measures immediately. While gathering evidence, your attorney may obtain a topographical map, plans for building the road, and photos showing warning signs to help support your case. Collecting evidence at the scene of the accident can help to reveal construction, design, and maintenance flaws.
Filing a Claim After an Injury
For you to file a personal injury claim successfully, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney should have vast experience in handling lawsuits concerning car accidents caused by adverse road conditions. It is crucial to gather all the information you can as you prepare to consult an attorney.
First, you should have details of the location of the dangerous road condition. Record the name of the road on which the accident occurred. To which direction were you traveling at the time the accident occurred? If there were some witnesses present at the time of the accident, it is advisable to take their contact information. The witnesses may later support your injury lawsuit by asserting that the accident happened due to poor road conditions.
Ensure that you understand and take note of the exact poor conditions that led to the accident. For instance, if the accident occurred to dangerous conditions like potholes or uneven ascents and descents, ensure that you outline it in your report. If you have the ability, you should take photos of the accident scene because they will serve as evidence during the lawsuit. You may take photos of your physical injuries and the surrounding features at the accident scene. If other vehicles were involved in the accident, you might take their photos as well. Documented evidence will help make your injury claim easy.
The Party at Fault in a Car Accident Resulting from Poor Road Conditions
After suffering injuries in a car accident resulting from poor road conditions, who is the proper party to sue and seek compensation from? The party to sue will vary depending on the facts of your case. You also have to consider the government entity responsible for maintaining the road on which you faced the accident and injuries. By investigating the accident and contacting the relevant government agencies, your personal injury attorney can be able to identify the party at fault.
There are several likely defendants in a car accident resulting from poor road conditions. For instance, you may sue the construction company working on the road. You may also sue the manufacturer of a defective spotlight. If you get into an accident due to faulty asphalt on the road, you may sue the company responsible for developing the faulty asphalt on the road. At times, another vehicle, especially trucks, may spill oil on the road making other vehicles slide and get into accidents. If this is the case, you may sue the truck operator who spilled oil on the road making your vehicle slide. The government will only be liable for neglecting to identify faults on the roads and fix them. However, if another party causes the poor road conditions, the party has to bear the burden just like in other personal injury lawsuits.
You may even sue the subcontractors responsible for road construction if poor road conditions make you suffer an injury. In many projects relating to road construction, the government hires contractors and subcontractors to do the work. The contractor or subcontractor may be responsible for your injuries if his/her poor workmanship leads to your accident. Both the contractor and the government may be responsible for your injuries.
Your personal injury attorney may go through the government's records to identify the various subcontractors and their roles in road construction. The attorney takes ample time and conducts vast research to identify the parties responsible for the accident and your injuries.
Showing that an Accident Occurred due to Dangerous Road Conditions
While filing a personal injury after a car accident caused by dangerous road conditions, you have to prove two essential factors. First, you have to prove that the accident occurred due to a hazardous road condition and not due to other causes. You also have to prove that the government or any other party is responsible for the injuries. It must also be evident that you suffered injuries during the accident. At times, it may be hard to prove that an injury resulted from an accident because some injuries may not appear immediately and will only show up later.
When a car accident occurs, you will know the exact cause of the accident, without a doubt. However, even if you are 100 percent sure that dangerous road conditions caused the accident, you still have to prove the actual cause of the accident. The government may argue that the accident occurred due to careless driving and not due to bad road conditions.
At times, you may also be partly to blame for the car accident. For instance, even though the road conditions were dangerous, you might also have operated your vehicle in an unsafe manner at the time of the accident. However, California is a comparative or shared fault state. This means that the court apportions liability depending on the degree of fault. Therefore, even if you are partly to blame for the accident, you may still be able to get some compensation. For example, if you are 20% to blame for the occurrence of the car accident, you may receive compensation less your degree of fault. Therefore, you may receive 80% compensation for the injuries suffered.
To get the compensation you deserve, you should never attempt to go it alone. Instead, you should file a personal injury lawsuit with the assistance of an attorney. Even if the government was at fault, it might attempt to deny the charges and blame you instead. In addition to asserting that you were operating your vehicle in an unsafe manner, the government defender may also state that you were under the influence at the time of the accident.
The government may also argue that you got into an accident due to distracted driving. There are several forms of distracted driving, especially texting while driving. You may also engage in distracted driving by eating and driving at the same time. You may cause an accident by tending to children while driving.
The government defender may also argue that the accident occurred due to intervening causes and not due to dangerous road conditions. Intervening causes of car accidents include the negligence of another driver. A car accident may also occur due to a factor like a sudden act of nature. The most common form of defense that the government gives is that it was not aware of the poor road conditions. However, according to California personal injury law, even if the government was not aware of the poor road conditions, it may still be responsible for your injuries.
Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations refer to the timeframe within which you have to file a personal injury lawsuit from the time you suffered the injuries. If you fail to file a personal injury lawsuit within the set statutes of limitations, you may miss the compensation you deserve. A statute of limitations exists in every state in the U.S. In most states, the statute of limitations is usually shorter when you are filing a lawsuit against the government. Depending on the state you are in, you may be subject to separate deadlines for filing of notices and the personal injury lawsuit. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you will be aware of the proper dates for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Once the statute of limitations has passed, it may be too hard to get compensation; you may lose all chances of getting compensation.
The Sovereign Immunity of the Government
In some states, the government and government agencies have immunity from civil lawsuits. This means that private parties cannot be able to sue the government or government agencies for damages. This law goes by the name sovereign immunity and may apply to both the federal government and the state government. When the law applies to county, city, or any other government, its name may change to governmental immunity. If the law of sovereign immunity is applicable, it acts as a bar to any form of litigation against the government entity.
Some governments have put in place some exceptions to the sovereign immunity rule. For instance, the state of California has some exceptions to this rule. Therefore, private parties can be able to sue the government under some specific circumstances. The California Torts Claims Act outlines the exceptions to the sovereign immunity rule. In California, the negligent failure of the government to maintain roads is an exception to this rule. Therefore, if you suffer injuries due to dangerous road conditions in California, you may be able to sue the government and seek compensation.
Information Necessary During the Personal Injury Lawsuit
When presenting your personal injury lawsuit, your attorney may have to avail of some information to support your case. First, the attorney may present witness reports from the persons who may have witnessed the accident and the cause of the accident. A police report will also come in handy during the personal injury lawsuit. The police may respond to an accident when you or a bystander calls them. The police report may contain vast information, including the officer's observation of what happened. The report may also contain the opinion of the police officer outlining what happened during the accident.
Your testimony also counts during a personal injury lawsuit. You will have an opportunity to tell the jury what happened to help prove your case. Documented evidence, including photos of the accident scene, matters a lot. The photos may portray the damage on the car and the injuries the victims sustained. The photos may also show the dangerous road conditions like accidents, which may have caused the accident.
Other necessary information during a personal injury lawsuit includes survey records. These will help to outline how often the government conducts surveys of the road conditions. The survey reports will help to prove if the government was aware or should have been aware of the poor road conditions. In most accident cases, the government may claim that it was not aware of the dangerous road conditions. However, with surveys available, it is easy to prove that the government was aware of the road conditions.
Your attorney may also avail of your medical records during the personal injury lawsuit. The medical records will indicate the costs incurred while seeking treatment for injuries suffered during the accident. The medical costs may include rehabilitation fees, hospital bills, and future medical bills you may incur through procedures like physiotherapy, among others.
Records of your vehicle repair may also come in handy when you are seeking compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. The records will help to show the vehicle repair and replacement costs incurred due to vehicle damage associated with the accident.
Upon suffering injuries in a car accident to dangerous road conditions, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. You may seek compensation for the costs incurred in seeking treatment for the injuries. You should consider the past, the present, and the future medical costs when filing a lawsuit. However, you should only seek compensation for medical costs related to injuries suffered during the accident.
After suffering injuries, you may no longer be able to go to work and engage in other income-generating activities. You may seek compensation for lost wages, which is the money you would have earned if you did not suffer injuries in the accident.
You may also seek compensation for lost earning capacity because you may never be able to work as effectively as you did before the accident.
Non-economic damages may include damages such as loss of enjoyment in life. After suffering injuries, you may no longer take part in fun activities as before. You may also seek compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress you experience after suffering injuries in an accident.
Contact an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the government or a government entity is more complicated than filing a lawsuit against a private party. To make the claim process easier, you should contact a personal injury attorney. Orange County Personal Injury Attorney can advise you on the best way forward. Contact us at 714-876-1959 and speak to one of our attorneys today.