Dangerous road conditions are one of the major causes of car accidents in Los Angeles, and the entire United States. These hazardous roads may result from faulty maintenance, faulty design, and faulty construction. Perhaps you are considering suing the government to be compensated for the accident you were involved in because of a dangerous road condition. However, the government may put up solid defenses, and your claim may not be successful. Don't hesitate to reach out to the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney for assistance in your dangerous road condition case. We will make sure that the responsible party will be held liable and will compensate you.
Why You Should Sue the Government in Your Dangerous Road Case
The city, state, federal, or county government is responsible for maintaining roads that fall under its jurisdiction. According to the law of torts, any person who has a duty of doing a specific task should be held liable if another person suffers because of his negligence and recklessness in performing the task, or if he fails to do the task. Since the government is mandated to keep roads safe, it will be liable if it fails to do so. Any victim of a car accident that is caused by a dangerous road condition can institute a personal injury claim to receive monetary compensation.
Your attorney will sue the specific government entity which is responsible for maintaining the dangerous road which made you involved in an accident. He will identify this government agency by conducting an investigation on the accident and reaching out to the relevant local and federal authorities.
Besides the government, you can sue other parties in your personal injury lawsuit, depending on the circumstances and facts of your case. Some of these parties include the construction company which is responsible for maintaining the road, the company which manufactured the defective stop lights, or any other party who may have attributed to the dangerous road conditions.
In most road construction projects in California, the state government sublets the repair work to a contractor. This contractor may do a shoddy job. If the poor workmanship of the contractor caused your car accident, the court might hold him responsible for your injuries, together with the government.
Note that your personal injury attorney can access the records of the government. This way, he will know all the parties who may have been responsible for your accident. Then, he will include all of them in your claim and make sure that they compensate you for the injuries you suffered.
How the Government Learns About Dangerous Road Conditions
There are various laws and regulations which were enacted to enable the government to learn about dangerous road conditions in its jurisdiction within a reasonable period. Furthermore, the government is usually given a sufficient amount of time to repair these conditions. Federal and local authorities may discover unsafe roads through surveys, reports from concerned community members, and regular maintenance routines.
Sometimes, the government may claim that it didn’t discover the dangerous road condition. However, the court will still hold it liable if it discerns that the problem should have been found out within a reasonable time. Let’s say, for instance, a particular road within Los Angeles had many potholes. An accident occurred due to the potholes, but the road remained unrepaired for two years. John becomes involved in another accident on that road. The court may hold the California state government liable in John’s personal injury claim because it didn’t discover and repair the potholes within a reasonable time.
Types of Dangerous Roads Conditions
There are many dangerous road conditions that can cause an accident in Los Angeles. Here are some of them:
1. Poorly Maintained or Designed Crosswalks
Sometimes, road construction engineers may create crosswalks in places where oncoming cars can't see them, mostly at dangerous curves or around intersections that have poor traffic controls. Other times, a crosswalk which was once well-designed may end up being a road hazard when it becomes worn out because motor vehicle drivers won't see it when approaching it. This crosswalk will now act as a road trap for pedestrians who may use it, believing that it is safe.
When a car accident occurs on a crosswalk, a personal injury attorney may gather evidence which establishes that the crossing was unsafe, and it is the one which resulted in the accident. Furthermore, he will obtain the blueprints and photographs of the crosswalk, speed, and traffic volume of the site, and documented public complaints about the site.
2. Inadequate Visibility
Inadequate visibility may cause car accidents, especially where children are present. Imagine a child running onto the street from between two parked cars. In this scenario, a diligent driver exercising reasonable care may find it difficult to stop.
The government is responsible for ensuring that a child is visible when he is crossing the street, even if the intersection is unmarked. Your personal injury attorney can ascertain whether some road design flaws impair the visibility of certain crosswalks, resulting in an accident.
3. Defective Guardrails on Curves
Some defective guardrails may cause road accidents. The primary purpose of guardrails is to protect drivers from dangerous curves by highlighting the course of the road. This way, vehicles will not leave the course of the road. Guardrails are essential on elevated bridges and roads, and also on areas that have unsafe conditions such as in sharp curves or where there are obstacles like posts or trees.
In case a vehicle is involved in an accident on a highway, your lawyer may use his expertise to determine whether a guardrail was an essential requirement in that road. He will assess whether the highway had hazardous objects and measure the size of the recovery zone.
Guardrails are specifically designed to reduce the impact of foreseeable car accidents. The distance between guardrail posts should not exceed 75 inches, but some older guardrails have an in-between distance of 150 inches. This distance makes them defective, and they won't be able to direct vehicles back to the road.
4. Poor Warning Signs
The government has a duty of warning road users of any hazards present. These warnings must meet federal standards. For example, if there is a sharp curve ahead, there must be an arrow sign which illustrates the shape of the curve and indicates a speed limit. An unexpected dangerous curve can easily cause a road accident since drivers have not been sufficiently warned to pay more attention.
5. Defective Banking of Curves
The term ‘road banking' refers to how a highway is tilted to prevent vehicles from flying over dangerous curves. Sometimes, a road may not be titled well enough to prevent the centrifugal force from carrying a car off of it. Unsafe curves may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles as they strive not to be carried off of the highway.
Heavy traffic and aging can also affect the banking of a particular highway. This will create a dip in the road and possibly more accidents.
6. Lack of a Median Divider
Dangerous highways may also lack median dividers. Cross-median road accidents usually occur when motor vehicle drivers lose control despite exercising due diligence, possibly because of a sudden illness, debris on the road surface, or mechanical failure.
However, the government can still assert immunity in cross median dangerous road cases. In such instances, your attorney should identify all the potential evidence which will counteract the government’s defense of immunity.
7. Utility Poles
Utility poles cause around 76% of road accidents in the United States. Wrongful placement of utility poles can bring about a dangerous road condition.
Your attorney can illustrate to the court that the government should be liable by citing some reasonable alternatives which the authorities might have used instead of wrongfully placing the utility poles. Some of these alternatives include reducing the number of poles or relocating them, installing crash cushions or barriers, or utilizing breakaway poles.
8. Roadside Hazards
Roads should have clear zones on both sides. The primary purpose of these clear zones is to enable cars that stray off to quickly recover and return to safety.
Clear zones should be wide enough, and they should be free from obstacles too. Your dangerous roads attorney may hire an expert to assess whether these clear zones are adequate, as well as safe enough.
How to Institute a Claim for Personal Injuries from a Dangerous Road Condition
For you to institute a civil lawsuit, you must first consult a personal injury attorney. This attorney should be familiar with dangerous road condition cases.
Make sure you gather and keep all the information that you think may help you win your lawsuit. Some of this information is:
- The place where the dangerous condition is situated
- All your records of the accident, including police reports, tickets, vehicle repair costs, and medical bills
- The name of the highway you were on at the time when you were injured
- The physical characteristics of the dangerous conditions, like width, depth, and length
- The direction in which you were traveling
- Contact details for all the witnesses of the incident
- Photos and videos of the car accident scene, if you have them
How to Prove That the Dangerous Road Conditions Caused Your Injuries
There are two facts which you must prove in a personal injury dangerous road lawsuit. First, you must assert that the government entity which you sued had a duty to maintain or repair the dangerous road which caused the accident, and it failed to discharge this duty. Second, you have to illustrate that it is the hazardous road condition that resulted in your injuries or damaged your car.
Some road accident injuries may not manifest themselves immediately. Such injuries will make it difficult for you to ascertain whether the dangerous road motor vehicle accident caused them. In case you were driving recklessly, the government may argue that it was you who caused the accident, and not the road condition. However, according to California's shared fault laws, you can still be compensated even if you partially contributed to the occurrence of the accident.
What Information Should You Present to the Court?
What you must present to the court as evidence will depend on the facts of your case. However, there is common evidence which must be adduced in almost all dangerous road lawsuits as listed below:
- Witness reports - You must provide eyewitness accounts of what caused the accident.
- Proof that the government knew the condition - You must show that the government entity had knowledge of the dangerous road condition, and it did nothing about it.
- Police report - Typically, police reports explain how the accident happened, their observations and opinions to what may have caused the accident. These reports can strengthen your case.
- Vehicle repairs - Present records that illustrate the replacement or repair costs you incurred.
- Your testimony - You will tell the jury the events which led to the accident.
- Medical records - Make sure that your attorney has all the hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, and estimated future medical bills.
- Photographs - Take photos of the car accident scene, including your physically damaged car, the dangerous road condition, and your physical injuries.
- Survey records - Governments usually conduct periodic surveys of their highways. These surveys can help the court gauge whether the government had been aware of the dangerous road condition.
What the Government Will Argue
Although the government may be at fault, it wouldn't want to be responsible for your loss and injuries. Therefore, it will attempt to illustrate that there was another cause of the car accident and not the dangerous road condition.
For instance, it may tell the court that you were practicing unsafe driving, or you were intoxicated. It can also assert that you were distracted by your kids or your phone, or some other driver’s negligence led to the accident. Furthermore, it can argue that it didn’t know the dangerous road condition existed, or it wasn’t given adequate time to rectify it.
What is Sovereign Immunity?
Some government entities have immunity from civil lawsuits. Private parties cannot sue such governments for damages.
Federal and state governments assert sovereign immunity, while governmental immunity applies to county and city governments, as well as any other government entity. The principle of immunity bars any litigation against the government entity which asserts it.
Exceptions to the Principle of Sovereign Immunity
In the United States, most government agencies have enacted exceptions which permit private parties to sue them under specific circumstances. In the state of California, these exceptions are enlisted in the California Torts Claims Act. One of these exceptions is negligently failing to maintain roads and highways.
Some governments may require you to have a higher finding of negligence before you can sue them. This level of negligence is termed to be gross negligence. In some instances, gross negligence can overcome the principle of sovereign immunity.
The Statute of Limitations in Dangerous Road Condition Cases
Before you institute any civil claim in California, you must abide by its statute of limitations. The statute of limitations gives the specific time limit in which you can file your case. Typically, the limitation period for claims against the government is much shorter when compared to suits against private parties.
If the specified timeframe in the statute of limitation lapses, you won't be permitted to institute your claim; no matter the extent of its validity. You should consult your personal injury attorney who will advise you when to file your case.
Compensation for Your Injuries
Dangerous roads can cause accidents which may result in catastrophic and severe injuries. Some of these injuries include spinal cord injuries, brain damage and head injuries, loss of limbs, internal organ damage, fractures, and disfigurement.
The effect of these injuries is devastating. You will be compensated for your future and past wages, medical bills, impaired earning capacity, and other expenses related to the accident. Moreover, you can recover for reduced life expectancy, current and future pain, decreased ability of the body to fight off illness and infections, disfigurement, diminished enjoyment of life, and disability.
You may also be awarded punitive damages in some limited circumstances. If the accident caused the death of a loved one, you can institute a wrongful death lawsuit to receive compensation for burial and funeral expenses, loss of companionship and support, and financial losses. Your attorney can hire the services of experts like economists to help him assess the extent and types of compensation which you may seek.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Hiring the right personal injury attorney will make a vital difference as to whether or not you will win your civil lawsuit. Dangerous road cases in Los Angeles are usually highly complex because they must be fought against a well-financed and tenacious government. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney has had tremendous success in representing numerous accident victims. We have obtained excellent results in all manners of severe and catastrophic injury cases. We will be delighted to help you. You can call us at 424-231-2013 to confide in us.