What are your legal options if your car accident was caused by poor road conditions such as potholes, a cracked surface or other road defect? The city, county or state government is in charge of road maintenance and ensuring that roads are safe for use by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. The government’s role in roads is rooted in the duty to design, build and maintain safe roads. This responsibility includes providing adequate visible signage, pavement markings and lighting; traffic control such as stop signs, street lights or substitutes during construction; guardrails and rumble strips on freeways.
According to an 18-month study completed in 2009, “bad highway design and conditions” are a factor in more than half the fatal vehicle crashes in the United States. They contribute to more deaths than speeding, drunken driving or failure to use seat belts. Road-related conditions are a factor in 22,000 fatalities and cost $217.5 billion each year on average. By comparison, similar car crashes where alcohol was involved cost $130 billion, speeding cost $97 billion and failure to wear a seat belt cost $60 billion.
If you were the victim of a car accident that was caused by the government’s failure to keep the road safe then you may be able to file a car accident claim and lawsuit.
Obstacles to filing a car accident lawsuit against a governmental entity
The first obstacle to filing a car accident lawsuit for poor road conditions against the government is that the victim may not realize the cause of the accident. Secondly, suing government entities can be complicated because many levels of government may be partly responsible and there may be strong laws in place to help protect the government body from a lawsuit.
For these reasons, it is very important for a car accident victim to hire an accident attorney who has the knowledge and access to trained experts who can help determine fault.
The American Bar Association has identified the following five elements that must be proved in a case against a public entity:
- The public entity owned or controlled the road(s) involved in the accident;
- The road involved was in a dangerous condition at the time of the accident;
- The dangerous condition caused the accident;
- The accident occurred in a way that the public entity could reasonably anticipate would result from the dangerous condition; and
- The dangerous condition resulted either from the public entity’s carelessness or from the public entity’s failure to take reasonably prompt remedial action in response to receiving notice of the dangerous condition.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!