Who Is Liable for Accidents Caused by Poor Road Design or Maintenance

In a typical car accident, it is fairly simple to determine liability, especially when an accident only involves one other party. However, sometimes there are accidents where no other person is at fault. Rather, they are caused by poor road conditions.

Common road conditions that lead to car accidents include:

  • Potholes
  • Lack of signage
  • Malfunctioning traffic signal
  • Missing guardrails
  • Faulty road design
  • Wet, icy, and snowy roads
  • Oil and chip
  • Shoulder drop-offs
  • Construction zones

So who is legally responsible in those situations? In many cases, it is the city, county, or state government charged with maintaining the road where the crash occurred.

The theory is that—since the government is responsible for maintaining the roadways—they are also responsible for any damages that are caused by poor road conditions. Keep in mind, just because your accident was caused by questionable road conditions doesn’t mean that the government is always liable.

The government is allowed a reasonable amount of time to discover poor road conditions, as well as a reasonable amount of time to make repairs. In general, governments discover hazardous road conditions by either through people reporting the issue or by conducting routine surveys of the roadways.

So if the government has yet to discover a hazardous road condition, it will most likely not be held accountable for any damage the condition caused. However, if the dangerous condition has been around long enough that the government should have found it and made the necessary repairs, then the government may be held responsible despite not actually knowing about the poor condition.

In order to successfully file a claim against the government for an accident caused by a hazardous road condition, you must prove the following circumstances:

  • The government was aware of the poor road condition (or should reasonably have known about it).
  • The government failed to make the required repairs within a reasonable amount of time.

If you think you have a claim, you must find out which government entity is responsible for maintaining the road in question. You can do this by contacting your local county commissioners’ office. As soon as you figure out which government body is responsible, you must provide the government body notice of your claim.

If the government admits to its knowledge of the poor condition, then congratulations, you won your case. By contrast, if the government denies the allegations, you can request survey records to determine whether or not someone previously located the poor road condition that caused the accident and demonstrate that the government should have known about the poor condition.

Let Our Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Fight for You

If you were recently involved in a car accident that was caused by poor road condition, it is critical to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. At Mardirossian & Associates, Inc., we can assess your case and determine all of your available legal options to see if you are eligible to recover damages from the government.

For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.


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