Can Road Defects Be Considered in a Car Accident Case?

Can Road Defects Be Considered in a Car Accident Case?

HighwayCar accidents can be painful and expensive, and often could have been avoided. If poor road conditions caused your accident, you may feel that there is nothing you can do to recover compensation for your accident. It is possible that road defects may be considered in a car accident claim, however. Learn more about how you can prove that negligent roadbuilding or maintenance was to blame for your accident.

Common road conditions that can cause car accidents:

  • Blind curves or poorly banked roads
  • Uneven shoulders or poorly graded curves
  • Inappropriate road materials
  • Lack of traffic signals or poorly placed traffic signals
  • Confusing, missing, or damaged signs
  • Missing or improperly painted road markings
  • Low bridges or incorrectly marked bridges
  • Broken or damaged guardrails
  • Vision obstructions such as poor landscaping
  • Lack of nighttime lighting or overly bright lighting
  • Unsalted or unplowed roads

If you were involved in an accident due to one of these factors, it is possible that your insurance will cover your accident. If you are able to prove that your accident was caused be negligent road design or maintenance, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the government agencies and private organizations that were involved in the building of the road. In order to take on such a lawsuit, it is recommended that you enlist the help of an experienced car accident attorney.

Proving Liability for Road Defects

It can be exceedingly difficult to bring a lawsuit against government agencies, due to sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity protects government agencies from civil actions. The courts have slowly eroded sovereign immunity by permitting lawsuits against grossly negligent or reckless government agencies. It can take a good deal of evidence to prove that you have a legitimate claim, but your attorney can help you build a strong case.

You will need to determine what parties may possibly be held responsible for your injuries. Because road building and maintenance is a huge undertaking, it is likely that there are several parties involved, such as private contractors or federal, state, or local government agencies. You should be able to locate this information in records at the county clerk’s office. Records about roads are available due to several open records acts, so you should be able to discover which agencies are involved in the road that caused your accident.

Building Your Claim

If you are bringing a lawsuit against the organizations involved in building and maintaining the road that caused your injuries, you will need to provide a considerable amount of evidence. This can be challenging, but it is possible that your lawyer can help you find the evidence you need. Here are some credible and relevant sources of information that you can use to build your case.

Police Reports

If a police report was taken at the scene of your accident, you can obtain a copy of the report from your insurance. Asking the responding officer questions may also help you determine if the road has caused other accidents. If there have been other accidents at the same location, it can strengthen your claim that the road is dangerous. You can also ask the officer to include any roadway faults or obstructions that you believe caused the accident in the report.

The report will contain:

  • Witness’ names
  • A description of the road quality and condition
  • A diagram of the accident
  • Weather conditions
  • Other contributing factors

Photographs

If you are able, carefully photograph the accident scene. Take general area shots, pictures of any faults in the road that contributed to the accident, signs or traffic signals, and photos of property damage or injuries. If you are unable to take shots at the time of the accident, request that a passenger, friend, or family member do so, or return and photograph what you can. Be sure to include a shot that proves the date and time of the accident, such as the display of a cellphone with the accident scene in the background.

Find Witnesses

Talk to residents or workers in the area of the accident. If they have witnessed your accident or other accidents at the location, it is possible that they will provide a statement regarding the frequency of accidents there. Find out if they have reported the roadway as dangerous to any state, local, or federal government agencies.

Research

It is possible that other lawsuits have been filed for accidents at the same location. You can look up lawsuits filed against the Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation to see if there are other lawsuits that have been filed for accidents on the same road as your accident.

You can also look at the county clerk’s office for lawsuits filed against the individual state and local government agencies and private contracting firms involved in the road at the accident site. Look for lawsuits similar to yours, and see what was used for evidence and what the amount of compensation was. The state attorney general’s office may also have information on the advisory opinions issued by the office to government agencies regarding this road.

Ask your attorney for help with your research. They can help you find relevant information, as well as explain legal language and the implications of the cases to you. Your lawyer should be invested in helping you gain a better understanding of your claim and similar claims.

Getting Help with Your Claim

Taking on government agencies and private contractors can be difficult to handle alone. An experienced car accident attorney can be invaluable as a source of information and legal knowledge as you build your claim. Look for an attorney who is practiced in lawsuits against government agencies, and ask for more information about cases they’ve handled that were similar to yours. Your choice in lawyer should be confident and concerned with helping you navigate the legal process successfully.

Our Springfield car accident attorneys are backed by more than 40 years of legal experience in personal injury claims, including auto accidents. Strong-Garner-Bauer P.C. is committed to fighting for the needs of our clients, and we offer one-on-one legal services to help our clients maximize their chances of receiving compensation for their injuries. Let us help you build your claim.

Contact our firm by calling (417) 855-2022 to schedule a free consultation.

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