Road defects are a severe danger to a driver’s safety and wellbeing, yet many drivers seem to consider them a part of the routine. Potholes and poorly designed roads have been known to cause major accidents when they unexpectedly appear when traveling at high speeds.
Suppose you’ve been injured in a road construction accident, by a defective roadway design, or by a poorly maintained road. In that case, you should contact an experienced Atlanta attorney as soon as possible. You could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses resulting from the accident. Contact the injury and accident attorneys at the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm to learn more about your legal rights. You can reach us through our online contact form or by calling (833) 254-2923.
Throughout the state, Georgia drivers encounter many risks on the road. These dangers increase in road construction zones. Not only do you have to contend with the usual problems of road work and changing traffic patterns, but the site itself presents hazards. You must watch out for heavy machinery, blasting equipment, and even hazardous materials. A failure to comply with this legal requirement may expose individuals, companies, and government agencies to civil or criminal liability.
Examples of Road Defects
Road defects are the cause of many accidents. They are often caused by poorly designed road systems, inadequate road maintenance, age-related deterioration, poor traffic control, and snow and ice build-up due to winter weather conditions, vandalism or traffic accidents requiring lane closures that cause lane shifts or road closure. The following are some examples of road defects that can cause accidents and injuries:
- Road defects include bumps, potholes, cracks, bumps in the middle of a lane, uneven surfaces, ruts, poor drainage systems, and poor visibility due to poor lighting or shrubbery that block your view.
- Potholes are craters on a section of a roadway that damages a vehicle’s tire and wheel, resulting in a blowout and potentially dangerous loss of control of the car or truck. Potholes also pose a severe safety risk to motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
- Defective road designs include inadequate signage at dangerous intersections, which may cause confusion during traffic flow. Improperly placed signs can also be a problem if they create confusion about where motorists should drive.
Atlanta injury attorneys at CEO Lawyer will help you determine if any of these types of defective roads contributed to the accident and whether the responsible parties should be held liable for your injuries or the deaths of your loved one.
Types of Injuries Caused by a Defective Road Accident
Road defects are hazardous to drivers who are not expecting them, often resulting in accidents. Unpredictable road defects can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. The unexpected jolt caused by hitting a road defect can cause the driver to swerve into oncoming traffic or hit stationary objects. Many of the most severe injuries caused by road defects occur due to people being ejected from their vehicles. Some of the most extreme cases of spinal cord injury or paralysis have resulted from this type of accident.
Just one accident involving a road defect can cause numerous injuries, including burns and lacerations, fractured bones, internal injuries or organ damage, total paralysis, painful disfigurements, herniated discs, permanent scarring, facial injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, neck, back, or spine injuries, severed limbs, and traumatic brain injuries.
In addition to the apparent injuries from a collision, indirect damages may not be obvious. For instance, car accident victims can experience long-term depression, chronic pain, and even temporary or permanent disability. These invisible injuries can be just as devastating as a laceration from shattered glass or a fractured bone from a blow to the head.
Who is Responsible for Road Maintenance?
Cities, counties, and states share responsibilities for maintaining roads. The state typically handles long-term road projects, such as repairing potholes and building new interchanges. The town is usually responsible for plowing snow and applying de-icing agents to the roads.
Although each area may have its own agency that is primarily responsible for maintaining its streets, you will almost always find multiple entities that contribute to the upkeep of each roadway. Not only can this be confusing, but it is also an issue that can lead to lawsuits against multiple parties. Since this situation is so confusing, you may wonder which party they should sue for injury-related damages due to poor road conditions.
Road Construction Zones
Road construction zone dangers are exaggerated by work areas extending into the roadway’s traveled portion. Unfortunately, this is not always easy to see; these areas may be marked with dim reflectors, arrows, changing patterns of raised pavement markers, or even by empty space if no warning signs or pavement markings exist.
Unpaved road shoulders may also present inherent hazards to workers and motorists. To be safe, you should slow down when approaching any unclearly marked work zone. This will give you the time you need to stop safely if necessary.
Due to the inherent danger associated with construction zones, workers and construction companies alike must take extra precautions to ensure the safety of those who must travel through or near them. Through sudden unexplained behavior, workers who stop traffic, leave equipment on the road, or unsafely perform construction activities can incur legal liability from those they endanger.
Because of the safety risk, some activities are so dangerous that employees can be held responsible for work injuries even if they were not negligent. These are known as “strict liability” violations. Construction companies, local governments, state agencies, and other such groups can be held vicariously liable for damages caused by the negligence of their employees.
How to Prove Negligence in A Defective Road Accident?
Each state has its own laws about what must be shown to prove governmental negligence, but what is required often includes attacking the logic of the agency’s decision. This could be because it failed to comply with specific state or federal regulations, or it might have been a scenario where there were specific steps the agency could have taken but didn’t.
To prove negligence, the injured person must show that the action or inaction of the road authority was a link in the causal chain between the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, if a road authority was aware that there were inadequate sightlines at an intersection but left it as is, they could be held liable for an accident that occurred because of this oversight.
If a tree fell in the middle of a road and remained unmoved for days after being reported to the road authority, the authority could be held liable for damages suffered by anyone who hit it. The critical element in these examples would be proving that someone with authority to address the problem failed to take action.
Can You Sue the Responsible Party?
Individuals and organizations that suffer monetary or physical injury as a result of government action or inaction can likely sue for remedies such as damages, injunctions, and refunds. Some governmental bodies may not be subject to suits, such as federal agencies and federal-funded state programs. These provisions require administrative claims processes or other formal resolution methods before a case can proceed in court.
Depending on what jurisdiction a municipality is in, it may or may not be able to be sued for negligently maintaining a roadway. In any case, poor road maintenance can be actionable, but it will always hinge on whether or not the negligence was “clear” or “gross” or whether the municipality had adequate insurance.
If a governmental entity is responsible for a personal injury or wrongful death, you can file a claim against the entity in most states. While each state has its own rules and processes for filing a claim, most require you to notify the government entity within a prescribed period after the accident.
If signage has been rendered inadequate because of comprehensive overgrown roadside vegetation or detached, obscured, or damaged signs, the hazard may be deemed more prominent than warnings relating to a preliminary warning. Typically, these problems could include potholes in the road, areas without clear visibility from a sign, bumps in the road, damaged pavement, sudden curves in the road when there is no signaling beforehand.
However, if design errors and erroneous roadway signage and markings cause additional accidents and injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, this would be considered a safety issue as well as legal liability for the state.
Seek Legal Counsel from Competent Personal Injury Lawyers
A road need not be full of potholes to cause a car accident. A dangerously thin layer of asphalt is just as dangerous as an entire roadway paved with the material. Unfortunately, some roads are not designed to handle the number of cars that drive on them daily. Defective roadways pose severe threats to drivers’ safety as they lead to serious car accidents. If you suffered an injury on public roads or while at work, you need legal counsel willing to stand up to the government.
Whether recovering damages from a municipal agency for a faulty city design or recovering damages from a state agency for a poorly maintained road, the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm has the experience to help you seek the financial restitution you deserve. Contact our injury and Atlanta car accident lawyers at (833) 254-2923 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.