When Is The State Liable For A Crash Due To Unsafe Road Conditions?

Posted on

The majority of car accidents are caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver. However, there are times when unsafe road conditions cause serious accidents. It is not uncommon for a car accident to be caused by potholes, faulty road designs, roadway erosion, missing guardrails, and more.  Proving fault in these incidents is not easy. If you or someone you care about is injured in a car accident caused by unsafe road conditions, you should seek help from an experienced attorney.

What roadway conditions can cause accidents?

The simple fact that there was an unsafe condition in the roadway is not enough to prove that the state was negligent in their duties. The injured party will need to prove that the roadway conditions caused the accident in that the defect in the road would have been unavoidable by a reasonably careful driver.

Defects in the roadway generally fall into three categories:

  • Faulty designs: Government agencies are generally responsible for paying to design and construct roadways. If there is a flawed design that can make the roadway unreasonably dangerous, the state could be held liable for damages and injuries from a crash. Faulty designs could include curves that are too sharp or poorly banked, poor drainage, unreasonably steep downgrades, poor visibility, the absence of medians, absence of guardrails, and more. Some stretches of roadway have more accidents than others, and this could be due to faulty designs.
  • Failure to warn: Roadway signs are vitally important for drivers because they provide information that they need to adjust their driving to avoid accidents. When signs are poorly positioned, missing, poorly maintained, or confusing, they can cause serious accidents on the roadway.
  • Faulty construction and/or failed maintenance: The term “crumbling infrastructure” is commonly used across the country to describe roadways and bridges that are unsafe for drivers. When a roadway is not properly constructed or maintained, dangerous conditions such as potholes, erosion, dips, loss of structural integrity, and more can all present serious hazards for drivers.

Who is responsible for roadway maintenance?

Roadways are maintained by the state, county, and city governments. Some roadways have shared maintenance between various government agencies. For example, a state government may be responsible for roadway design and maintenance, well a city government may be responsible for clearing debris, snowplowing, and de-icing the roadways. An attorney will work to prove that the responsible party knew about the dangerous conditions and failed to remedy the situation in a reasonable amount of time.

What are the most common injuries in roadway defect crashes?

Just like accidents caused by other drivers on the roadway, accidents involving defective roadway conditions can lead to serious injuries for drivers and passengers. It is not uncommon for a West Virginia roadway defect crash to cause the following injuries:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Loss of or damage to bodily organ
  • Dismemberment or amputation
  • Significant disfigurement

Each of these injuries requires immediate medical care. Many roadway defect crash victims need extended medical treatment that can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. If a victim cannot work while they recover, they will likely lose the income they need to support themselves and their families.