Most vehicle accidents are caused by driver error or negligence (i.e. distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, fatigued driving, etc.). However, in some cases, car accidents are caused by road hazards. According to "On a Crash Course: The Dangers and Health Costs of Deficient Roadways," more than half of the fatalities in car accidents are caused by deficient roadway conditions.
Unfortunately, Congress has not approved a long-term funding plan to fix our highways and states do not budget enough money to maintain roads and highways. The result is dangerous road conditions that cause accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities.
What Dangerous Road Conditions Lead to Car Accidents?
Some road hazards are uncontrollable such as wet roads during the summer and icy road during the winter. Debris from accidents and storms is difficult to control. However, some road hazards are due to defects that can be controlled by federal and/or state governmental agencies. Common road conditions that are controllable and dangerous that lead to motor vehicle accidents include:
Improper or defective design of roads and highways can cause motor vehicle accidents. If roads are not designed to allow for proper drainage, water can build up on the surface of the road increasing the risk of hydroplaning. Defective road design can result in dangerous dips, slopes, or curves. Without careful planning, intersections can be dangerous if obstacles block the driver's view of oncoming traffic.
Failure to Maintain Roads
If roads are not properly maintained, potholes and cracks develop in the surface of the road. When a vehicle hits a pothole, the risk of blowing out a tire or losing control of the vehicle increases. In addition to failing to maintain the surface of the roads, failing to maintain traffic signs, traffic signals, painted markers on the roads, guardrails, and the shoulder of the road can contribute to car accidents.
The placement of signs, utility poles, and other roadside obstacles can increase the risk of accidents by blocking or obstructing the driver's view. Failing to cut roadside vegetation can also reduce a driver's view causing a motor vehicle accident.
Construction and Work Zones
Precautions must be taken to protect workers in construction and work zones; however, proper warnings and signage must be used to warn drivers of potential dangers. Barriers and machinery blocking or partially blocking traffic can contribute to car accidents. If contractors use poor quality materials or perform substandard work, it can increase the risk of an accident.
Can I Sue a Government Agency for A Car Accident Due to Road Hazards or Conditions?
Yes, in some cases a government agency may be liable for damages in a car accident caused by road hazards or dangerous road conditions. However, these types of lawsuits are complex and difficult to prove. If you believe your car accident was caused by the failure to design, build, and/or maintain safe roads and highways, contact our office to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. Because the statute of limitations or the notice requirements for a government agency may be different from other at-fault parties in a car accident, it is vital that you contact our office as soon as possible to protect your right to recover damages for hazardous and dangerous road conditions that caused your motor vehicle accident. Contact the experienced Harrisburg automobile accident attorneys of Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLP for a free consultation.