What Happens When Accidents Are Caused by Hazardous Road Conditions?
Whether you’re commuting into Sacramento or headed out of Folsom on vacation, you expect the roads you drive on to be safe and well maintained. Unfortunately, there are times when conditions on the road just aren’t ideal. Road hazards make driving stressful, and they can also lead to serious accidents. If you’ve recently been involved in an accident caused by a road hazard, it’s important to understand what happens now.
When Hazardous Conditions Cause Accidents
There are millions of vehicle accidents in the U.S. every year. Many of these are caused by negligent drivers, but bad weather, potholes and other hazardous road conditions can also lead to death or serious injury. Poor road conditions that contribute to or cause crashes include:
- Potholes and wheel ruts.
- Damaged or missing road signs.
- Poorly banked roads.
- Blind curves.
- Standing snow, ice or salt that hasn’t been plowed.
- Pooled water.
- Uneven shoulders and improperly graded curves.
- A lack of traffic signals.
- Visual obstructions such as untrimmed bushes.
- A lack of adequate nighttime lighting.
- Broken guardrails.
- Low bridges or incorrect overhead clearance signs.
- Improper application of road surfacing or construction materials.
- Poorly marked or unsafe work zones.
Who is Responsible for Hazardous Road Conditions?
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident that may have been caused by hazardous road conditions, you likely wonder who is to blame. In some cases, your insurance company may cover your medical costs and damage to your vehicle because no one is considered “at fault” for the accident. In other situations, the government entity responsible for maintaining roads may be at fault.
For example, you might have a claim against a county department of transportation if your accident was caused by poor road maintenance or a lack of adequate signage. According to leading legal authorities, people who have been injured in an accident and want to bring a case against a public entity must prove that:
- The public entity controlled or owned the road where the accident happened.
- Conditions on the road were dangerous at the time of the accident.
- Dangerous conditions caused the accident.
- The public entity could have reasonably anticipated that such an accident would happen.
- The dangerous conditions were the result of the public entity failing or neglecting to address its duties.
A city or county transportation department may be reasonably expected to maintain certain conditions on roads, but they can’t be held responsible for unforeseen hazards. One of the most common of these hazards is deer. They might look pretty standing by country roads outside Folsom, but they can do serious damage to a car. If you were involved in an accident that was caused by a deer, you will generally receive help from your insurance company.
Pursuing Compensation After an Accident
Many victims struggle to decide what they should do after they’ve been in an accident caused by hazardous road conditions. Make sure that you report the accident to the police and your insurance agent as quickly as possible, and gather contact information from any witnesses at the scene. If you’d like to pursue compensation from a public entity, you should also contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can examine the facts and advise you.