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When Bad Roads Cause Bad Accidents

THE STATE OF THE UNION’S ROADS

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Trump introduced his much-anticipated infrastructure plan. The President called for 1.5 trillion, in partnership with state and local governments and the private sector where possible, to be spent on repairing the nation’s deteriorating roads, bridges and public works. It is long overdue. According to a report released this week by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, 54,259 of America’s 612,677 bridges are “structurally deficient.” In a report issued in 2017 by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the group assigned a D+ grade—equivalent to a poor rating—to 12 out of the 16 categories of infrastructure studied. The category needing the most urgent investment is transportation: roads, bridges and mass transit systems specifically. The categories next in line: schools, and public drinking water systems. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that 2 trillion will need to be invested over a period of 10 years in order to bring America’s infrastructure out of disrepair.

BAD ROADS CAUSE BAD ACCIDENTS

What does all of this mean for Americans? Focusing on the transportation part, bad roads and bridges can mean bad accidents. Some examples of disrepair that can cause motor vehicle accidents are the following:

  • debris from broken pieces of road or road construction;
  • misplaced traffic cones;
  • faded road markings;
  • potholes;
  • uneven lanes;
  • narrow shoulders and crumbling road edges;
  • missing guardrails.

The above road conditions can force drivers to swerve into other cars or off the road, causing and/or worsening accidents.

WHO IS LIABLE

The government is responsible for safe roads and bridges, but determining which governmental entity is directly responsible for the particular road condition that led to your accident can be tricky. A combination of city, county, state and federal oversight can be involved, depending on the type of road on which your accident occurred; e.g. an interstate highway, a state route, or a neighborhood road all involve different branches of government.

However, no matter which governmental entity is responsible for the road, the theory of liability for accidents arising out of poor road conditions is the same. This liability is based on negligence; therefore a plaintiff needs to prove that the government knew or should have known about the poor road condition, yet failed to repair that road condition in a reasonable amount of time. (Note: this liability differs from accidents caused by structural or design defects in roadways.)

Thus, establishing the exact location of the poor road condition which led to the accident, as well as establishing the exact nature of the condition is crucial to being successful in a claim. Establishing the location will help to determine governmental responsibility as well as to verify the condition. Taking pictures of the poor road condition—whether it is a pothole, debris, or a missing guardrail—will aid in proving causation of the harm suffered. If taking pictures is not possible, take notes on or measurements of the condition. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information as well. Document everything about the accident and the road as much as possible.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

Exactly because making a successful claim against any governmental entity can be overwhelming, you need the legal expertise of a personal injury attorney. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by poor road conditions, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
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