Who Is Liable in a Car Accident Due to Poor Road Conditions?
Poor road conditions can make driving even more dangerous, even for the best drivers. Missing guardrails and traffic signs, potholes, and even faulty road design can lead to accidents and injuries. It can be complicated to determine who is at fault for an accident caused by poor road conditions, but it may be possible to still receive compensation for your car accident. Here are some things to consider in a claim like this.
What Do I Need to Prove?
As with any accident, you must prove that the at-fault party is actually liable for the accident. If you’ve been injured due to poor road conditions, you must demonstrate the following:
- That your accident, injuries, and property damage are the direct result of the road conditions.
- That the agency or company responsible for maintenance of the accident site was negligent in maintaining a safe road or did not adequately ward drivers of the hazards.
- That the responsible party is legally allowed to be sued and the claim is within the statute of limitations.
Proving the Cause of the Accident
The first step to take in your accident claim is to determine the cause of your accident. Your car accident attorney will be instrumental in finding evidence to support your claim. They can help you document the site, interview witnesses, discover other accidents at the site, and can work with other professionals to recreate the accident.
This can be very challenging, but your lawyer can help you find the information you need. You can request survey records to learn if the government was aware of the poor road condition that caused your accident. If there are surveys indicating knowledge of the area’s condition, it can be easier to demonstrate negligence.
If you don’t find direct evidence of knowledge of the site’s poor condition, you may need to prove that the government should have known about the site’s issues. Interviewing those who live or work nearby can help you learn if the road caused other accidents or if locals have filed complaints in the past regarding the state of the road. You will need to demonstrate that the condition has existed for a long enough time that the government should have discovered it.
Because the city, county, or even state government is responsible for maintaining roads, it is likely one of these parties may be held liable. If it is the job of the government to maintain roads, they should be held responsible for damages caused by roads that are not reasonably safe. However, this is assuming they have had a reasonable amount of time to discover the issue, and a reasonable amount of time to repair the issue.
Can the Agency Be Sued?
Many government agencies, including state and federal government, are immune from lawsuits. There may be exceptions, however. You may be able to sue for negligence in maintaining a roadway, but there may be strict requirements, such as the negligence being considered “gross” or that a municipality has purchased insurance coverage to cover these types of lawsuits. The rules for suing a government agency can vary widely from state to state.
There is also the statute of limitation to contend with. There is only a certain amount of time after an accident in which you are permitted to file a lawsuit. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for both personal injury and property damage is 2 year from the date the injury or damage occurred. For personal injury claims, this also can encompass the two years following the date of the discovery of an injury.
Filing Your Claim
If you feel you may be able to make a claim, you’ll need to take down a few pieces of relevant information, including:
- The general location of the poor condition
- The name of the road
- The direction you were traveling
- The exact location of the poor condition
- The physical characteristics of the conditions, such as the width and depth of a pothole, the length of damaged guardrail, or other features
- The names and contact info of any witnesses
You will also need to learn which government agency is responsible for road maintenance. Start by calling the county commissioner’s office. If they are not responsible, they can help you learn who is. Once you have identified the proper party, you will need to give them proper notice of your claim within the statute of limitations.
Get Help From Our Toledo Car Accident Attorneys – (419) 318-0772
If you’ve been involved in an accident due to poorly maintained or designed roads, get in touch with our team at Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A. We are backed by more than 100 years of collective experience, and our Toledo auto accident lawyers have the skill and knowledge to guide you through even the most complex case.
Learn more by scheduling a free consultation today. Contact our offices by calling (419) 318-0772.