Auto Accidents Caused by Poor Road Conditions
By Younker Hyde Macfarlane on April 25, 2014
When driving along a road that has hazardous conditions, people may feel powerless to remedy the situation. In most cases, drivers traverse dangerous roads carefully but successfully, and hope that conditions are more favorable in the future. But what if such hazards lead to an accident? Depending on the nature of the roads and who is responsible for their safety, drivers may be able to file a lawsuit for damages.
Any auto accident is a serious matter, especially when injury is involved. If you get into an accident that is not your fault, our Salt Lake City personal injury attorneys are prepared to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Even if your accident does not involve another vehicle, poor road conditions may be reason enough to relieve you of financial responsibility.
What Makes Road Conditions Dangerous?
Because "road conditions" is a fairly general term, there are quite a few ways in which a road may be inherently unsafe. Some of these factors may be due to the road itself, such as the way it was built or how it has changed over time. Other factors may be temporary, such as weather, but nevertheless play a part in the likelihood of an accident. Dangerous road conditions may include:
- Poorly designed roads: Some roads are simply poorly designed or built. Sharp turns, lack of nighttime lights, and missing road signs can all contribute to the risk of an accident.
- Poor maintenance: When roads are not properly maintained, drivers may encounter potholes, rough or uneven surfaces, obstructed signs, or broken lights, each of which can play a part in one's overall safety.
- Objects in the road: When a large object lies in the middle of the road, drivers may be forced to stop short, swerve, or run it over. This may be due to a fallen branch, construction, or another vehicle.
- Inclement weather: When roads are affected by snow, ice, flooding, or similarly dangerous weather patterns, drivers should be wary. In some cases, roads may be far more affected by weather when local authorities fail to clear them.
If you have been in an auto accident as a result of poor road conditions, it can be tricky to discern whether anyone was at fault. First, it must be determined who is responsible for the road and its upkeep. Generally, this responsibility is held either by local authorities, the city, or the state. And while such authorities may be negligent in their duty, most governments have something called "sovereign immunity" from such lawsuits, removing them of legal liability.
Fortunately, many governments, from local towns to the state level, permit lawsuits against them for the public good. This allows those who were greatly harmed in an accident to often seek reasonable compensation from the party responsible, even when that party is a governing body. Still, when it comes to road conditions, the prosecution must prove gross negligence in the maintenance of a road. In regard to potholes, for instance, the prosecution would have to prove that a road has been in very poor condition for a considerable amount of time, and that the municipality knowingly made no attempt to fix the situation.
What to Do If You're in an Accident
In the event you are in a car accident that is the result of a road hazard, stay calm. If you or anyone else is injured, your first action should be to contact medical assistance. Following that, be sure to contact the local police department so that a report can be filed and the proper information exchanged. If you suspect you may want legal representation in regard to the cause of the accident, it is equally important to work with a knowledgeable auto accident attorney.
Our attorneys will be able to examine the accident, obtain copies of the police report, speak with any witnesses, investigate the road's maintenance, and ultimately corroborate any evidence of negligence in the road's safety. When our clients are successfully compensated for accidents and personal injury, they can be alleviated of any and all financial responsibility.
Don't Wait to Investigate
Many states have a statute of limitations on how late someone can file a lawsuit, namely against a governing body. Rather than wait for your bills to arrive and possibly miss out on your chance to get compensated, contact our office as soon as an accident occurs.
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