Most accidents on our roads are attributed to the negligence of the driver. However, multiple causes exist for accidents, with dangerous road conditions being a cause too. When potholes develop and go unrepaired, or the lighting is insufficient, or missing guardrails among others are there, they are a danger to motorists. When an accident occurs, the persons involved suffer injuries with some being substantial, and damages to the vehicle are experienced.

The state of California adheres to the rule of fault. This means that the entity responsible for the damages suffered must compensate the victim for the losses. Seeking damages from a state agency when an accident happens due to hazardous road conditions is not easy. However, the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can assist you and ensure you are well compensated.

Who Takes Responsibility for Safe Roads in California

Typically, the city, county, state, or federal government is obligated to maintain roads in their jurisdiction. If the entity responsible does not keep to its obligation of maintaining the ways in the right conditions, they are held accountable for any accidents that occur as a result. This means, if a motorist hits a pothole and ends up in an accident, the entity responsible for repairing the pothole is held liable for the injuries sustained and other damages.

When you are involved in an accident as a result of poor road conditions, your lawyer can raise a claim with the state entity responsible. Alternatively, a lawsuit seeking damages can also be filed by your lawyer if the state declines your request.

Ways the State Knows of Hazardous Road Conditions

For each state or city, some rules dictate the reasonable time they need to know of a dangerous condition on the road and the appropriate time to attend to the situation. Different elements define a reasonable time, and it is based on particular facts or circumstances. The multiple ways an entity will know of the dangerous conditions are:

  • Performing periodic road surveys

  • Getting reports from persons that have identified the hazard on a particular road

  • While routinely maintaining the highways.

Sometimes, the state entity responsible for roads may not be aware of the risks in a specific route. When an accident occurs in such a way, the body may deny liability because they were not aware of it. Despite this, however, they can still be held accountable because they had a reasonable time to discover the road hazard and repair it.

The hazardous condition could have existed for a lengthy period. This means the entity had sufficient time to know of it and correct it before an accident occurs. When your lawyer can prove this, the government entity or city is accountable for the losses and injuries due to the dangerous condition on the road.

Multiple road conditions are the responsibility of the state agency or government. When the conditions are not discovered and corrected on time, the damages that result are compensated by it. Some of these conditions or situations include:

  • When the road has cracks or potholes that result in the motorist losing control of their vehicle

  • When road signs fall or are hidden by foliage needing trimming, and have been that way for some time.

  • Guardrail issues found at corners, ditches r overpasses

  • Failure to install rumble strips at certain parts on the road

  • Destroyed bridges or overpasses

  • A lack of warning signs

  • Hazardous curves or bends

  • A lack of sufficient control where there is a construction like placing cones or markings

  • When the lane markings are faded such as centerlines, edge lines or turn lanes

  • Poor lighting and road signs

  • Flooding as a result of clogged drainage

  • Broken stop lights at intersections.

Reasons for Dangerous Roads

When roads are freshly made, they are always in perfect condition. However, they are subject to wear and tear, primarily due to various weather conditions. Their daily use also contributes to their status in time. Other reasons can also result in the government entity taking responsibility for the hazardous conditions. These reasons include:

  • Poorly planned and designed roads

  • Poor construction such as when substandard products are used in the development of bridges and roads

  • When the agency neglects its duty of periodic maintenance of the streets and their repair.

One of the responsibilities of a government is to safeguard its citizens from danger. One of the ways to accomplish this is by ensuring proper road conditions where accidents are prevented. When the government fails in this responsibility of maintaining decent roads, it fails in protecting its citizens. As a result, it will be held accountable for the losses and injuries the road accident victims sustain.

Raising a Claim Because of Dangerous Road Conditions

Consulting a personal injury attorney before instituting a claim of this nature is crucial to your success. As you prepare to meet your attorney, it is essential to have collected all the necessary information regarding your case. Some important information you need to have include:

  • The location of the road hazard

  • Pictures of the accident scene showing details of the road, and the damages. Taking as many photos as one can from various angles enhances your chances of a successful claim.

  • A video of the surroundings and the accident, when possible, is an advantage as well.

  • The particular road’s name and its description are essential.

  • Indicate where you were headed and coming from

  • If there were a witness to the crash, obtain their details and, where possible, get a written statement from them.

  • Elements of the dangerous condition, for example, if you hit a pothole, try to identify its length, depth, or width, and possibly, take a photo of it.

  • Police reports, medical reports from the attending physician, medical bills, and other costs of the accident such as invoices from the auto repair shop.

Irrefutable details go a long way in helping your claim. Gathering evidence from the accident scene is crucial to your application. If other vehicles were involved, as a result, their details must also be obtained.

Determining the Liable Entities

Following the accident, your next question is the particular government agency responsible for compensating you. Determining the specific entity responsible for maintaining the road where the accident occurred is critical. Your experienced attorney knows how to investigate to determine the agency in the government accountable for the particular route.

Depending on the situation and elements of the accident, other entities can also be held accountable for the losses. These include:

  • A construction company hired to work and repair the road.

  • A manufacturer of a stoplight found to be faulty.

  • The owner of a truck that caused the hazardous condition by spilling oil on the road that caused your skidding

  • The company that was responsible for developing faulty asphalt.

Based on the discussion above, while a government agency can be accountable for your damages, other entities can be found responsible as well. Your experienced attorney will determine the accountable body and raise a claim with them.

Suing Government Contractors for Damages

On most occasions, the government engages contractors to construct or repair roads. A subcontractor or contractor can perform their jobs poorly, and as a result, a dangerous situation the way is created. When this happens, the person responsible for the damages following an accident is the contractor. However, the state entity can be apportioned blame because they employed the contractor or subcontractor.

Without an attorney representing you, it is challenging to establish fault and knowing the correct party to seek damages from. Your attorney has the power to subpoena government records that help determine who the contractors for the road are. These records also help in deciding if the hired contractor can be liable for the injuries suffered or not.

Here, your lawyer will do extensive research, and during the discovery process, he or she can establish all the responsible entities and include them in the lawsuit. This means you can sue more bodies for the losses you incur as a result of the accident. Your attorney will petition all the responsible parties for a successful outcome according to the law.

How to Prove Your Claim

When your lawyer files a lawsuit to pursue your damages, he or she must prove two elements to get compensation. These elements include:

  • Showing the responsibility of maintaining the road in proper conditions lied with the government and its failure in its duty,

  • Proving that this dangerous condition was the reason for the crash that resulted in the injuries and costs.

When an accident occurs, not all sustained injuries are apparent or can be identified immediately. This poses a challenge in determining the actual cause for the losses you incur. However, going to a hospital for treatment helps determine the type of injuries you have suffered, both the obvious and the not so apparent. A doctor’s statement becomes crucial in deciding injuries sustained after the accident.

Following an accident, some people believe they understand the actual cause. Although this can be true, for a claim to succeed, proof of the same must be produced in court or accompany the petition. However, the government agency is allowed to enter its defense. In some cases, they may claim you recklessly drove, or you negligently operated the vehicle resulting in the crash. This is aimed at showing that you were responsible for the accident and not the road’s condition.

California adheres to comparative negligence law. According to this statute, if the government proves you are partially to blame for the crash, your compensation will be partial as well. If, however, the government cannot verify your responsibility, they will fully compensate you for the damages sustained. When the liability is partial, the court or jury determines to what extent each party is responsible for the accident. This degree or percentage is what determines the amount of compensation.

For your lawyer to prove your case against the government, he or she must present critical evidence before the court. Your claim is typically based on specific facts that are required to be submitted. Some standard proof that your lawyer will show in support of your request include:

  • Police report – After an accident, the police are typically expected to come to the scene once a report is made. One of the essential tasks of the police is to determine the cause of the crash. The responding officers will produce a report detailing the accident scene, the reason for the accident based on their findings, and the damages sustained that are apparent. Other details may include the vehicle involved, pictures of the scene, and any additional crucial information they may have obtained. Most insurance adjusters rely on the police report to determine a claim. Equally, the court heavily depends on the unbiased police report in determining fault.

  • Witness statement – Sometimes, a person may be available that witnessed the accident happen. Their account is often critical in determining fault. If any witness was possible, getting their details and their statement is necessary for your case.

  • Pictures – Most people have digital phones that can take pictures well. When the accident occurs, taking photos of the surroundings and the possible cause is essential in determining your claim. Pictures can tell a more accurate story than most people think. If you took any photos following your accident, your lawyer would present them as evidence to help with your case.

  • Personal testimony – Giving a personal account of the accident is also helpful. Your lawyer will prepare you before you testify to ensure your evidence is per your claim. The jury and the court upon listening to your testimony can decide about your application.

  • Survey records – The entities responsible for the maintenance of roads carry out routine surveys of the highways. The files from these surveys can be subpoenaed by your attorney to use them as evidence. The records can show the agency’s awareness of the dangerous condition when they knew and if anything was done to rectify it.

  • Medical records – When you get injured from the accident, taking care of your health is critical. This means you must see a doctor immediately to get treated for the injuries sustained. The hospital carries out a detailed investigation to determine any other damages that are not obvious. The treatment procedures undertaken as well as the drugs administered and their cost are part of your claim. All current and future medical requirements must also be included as evidence and in your request. Sometimes, the doctor that treated you for the injuries can be called to testify on your behalf by your attorney.

  • Property damage – When an accident occurs, the property that gets damaged is your vehicle in most cases. A detailed report of your vehicle’s damages and repair cost is a critical form of evidence. A certified auto mechanic can give this report accompanied by pictures of the damage before and after repairs.

  • Evidence showing government awareness of the hazard – Suing a government agency for damages is not always possible. Your lawyer must present proof of their knowledge of the dangerous condition, and due to negligence, they failed to correct it. Your lawyer must also prove the failure of the government in discovering the situation within a reasonable timeframe.

Common Government Defenses

Blaming the government for your losses means they must pay you for them, and it is a loss on their part. No one wants to incur losses, no matter the circumstances. The agency will not want to be liable for the damages you incur following an accident. As a result, they will try to show the crash was due to another cause and not the road condition. In doing this, they will present various arguments that include:

  • Claims that you dangerously drove leading to the accident

  • That you operated the vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol

  • You were distracted on the road or were negligent, resulting in the crash. They may say you were using your phone, were attending to children in the car, or you were eating as you operated the vehicle.

  • The government can blame the accident on an external cause such as another motorist’s negligence or a weather condition that is not their responsibility.

  • The agency can claim not to have been aware of the situation on the said road, or they did not have adequate time to correct it.

What is Sovereign Immunity?

Sovereign immunity simply means not every government agency can get sued. Some government entities are protected against lawsuits. This means, when one suffers damages, they cannot file a lawsuit for losses against them. As a result, your lawyer will pursue your damages from another entity that may be responsible for the costs, like the contractor hired to repair the road.

Luckily, exceptions allowing suing of agencies that benefit from sovereign immunity are available. In California, according to the Torts Claims Act, this is possible. According to the act, a government agency can be petitioned concerning gross negligence by failing in its responsibility to ensure safe roads. However, ordinary negligence will not result in the success of your claim. However, if your lawyer can prove gross negligence, your suit will be successful.

Statute of Limitations

This is the time allowed for one to raise a claim or file a lawsuit. The time provided for filing a lawsuit or presenting an application where a government agency is the respondent, is typically shorter. In California, you are given only six months in which to file a lawsuit against a government entity. When the time expires from when the accident occurred, you are not allowed to file a suit later, even when it would have been a success. Having an attorney becomes an advantage because they understand the legal requirements for a lawsuit.

Expected Compensation

When your lawsuit or claim is successful, you will recover damages that you sustain. Some losses you receive compensation for include:

  • ER treatment –Following a crash, you get taken to the emergency room for treatment. This cost of treatment is claimable as compensation.

  • Medical expenses – Depending on the injuries sustained, one may receive extensive treatment. The medical procedures and tests carried out are compensable in California. Past, present, and future costs of treatment for the injuries sustained in the accident are included in the claim. The injuries sustained may require the use of medical equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs. These, too, are compensable as a cost to you. If surgeries were carried out, their value is also compensable, including the medicines you must take to recover from the injuries.

  • Lost income – As you recover from your injuries, you will likely miss work for a short period or an extended period. This typically depends on the injuries sustained. As you miss work, you also miss on earning an income. The wages you lose as you recover are compensable as well.

  • Lost capacity to earn – Hitting a pothole can result in a violent accident that leaves the victim with catastrophic injuries. When a victim suffers devastating head injuries, they may not function as they once did. Some injuries, despite treatment, can leave the victim in a vegetative state. All these are reasons why they will never work again. The money they lose as a result of their inability to work is compensable in California.

  • Property damage – When an accident happens, your car suffers losses. The cost of repairs to get back the vehicle to its original status is recoverable.

  • Lost limbs – When the accident causes the victim to lose part of their body, they can pursue damages for it. The cost of an artificial limb to replace the lost one is also recoverable.

  • Pain and suffering – Injuries cause the victim lots of pain and suffering. Although this loss is not quantifiable, it is compensable under the law.

Sometimes fatality can result from this accident. The surviving family can claim for the victim’s wrongful death. Additionally, they will receive damages for:

  • Funeral and burial costs

  • Lost economic income previously received from the victim.

  • Loss of affection and support.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Accidents are never expected or planned for, and when they happen, they bring with them devastating losses. The law permits claims to recover these losses from the party responsible in California. Finding an experienced attorney to assist with your request is critical to the success of the lawsuit. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, the years of experience enable us to know how to seek damages successfully. Reach us at 424-237-3600 for a comprehensive discussion of your claim.