There are several things a driver has to watch out for on the road, such as reckless or aggressive drivers, road signs, weather conditions, and more. One of the other things they have to contend with is road defects which are not just annoying but can be dangerous.
Road defects can significantly increase the risk of serious accidents. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) survey, approximately 16.3% of car accidents in the U.S. result from roadway defects annually.
State agencies or private contractors can be held responsible for accidents caused by the lack of road maintenance. If you get involved in an accident caused by road defects, contact an auto accident attorney from Mountain States Injury Law to discuss your legal options. For more information about road defects, please carry on reading.
What are Road Defects?
Poor design, defective construction, and misleading traffic signal placement are some of the things that can be considered road defects. The Department of Transportation or other relevant organizations can be liable if you suffer injuries in an accident where a road defect is the cause of the accident.
Types of Road Defects
- Roadway Obstruction: Many things can obstruct a driver’s view, such as bushes, improper sign placement, trees, stone walls, and fences. These obstructions reduce the driver’s visibility and increase the chances of accidents.
- Potholes: Hitting potholes can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Drivers often swerve to avoid potholes which can be hazardous if there is any oncoming traffic.
- Sharp Curves: Sharp curves with poor striping or signage can be a major challenge for drivers and could lead to severe accidents.
- Inadequate Signage: Motorists require adequate traffic signs to navigate. Any signage obscuring the driver’s view or not placed in a visible area can be considered a roadway defect.
- Absent Guardrails: Defective or missing guardrails are a threat to motorists’ safety. Any accident caused due to a lack of guardrails could have devastating consequences.
- Narrow Lanes: Narrow lanes with inadequate or no shoulders can cause an accident. States such as Montana often have narrow roads that can be challenging for larger vehicles, increasing the likelihood of a vehicle collision.
- Bad Lighting: inadequate lighting reduces road visibility for drivers at night and can cause a car to crash at an unilluminated curve or turn on the road.
- Pavement Edge Drop-Offs: A pavement edge drop-off could also make the driver lose control of the vehicle and be unable to bring the vehicle back on track.
Types of Accidents Caused By Road Defects
Bicyclists suffer a more significant impact in a collision because they have nothing to protect their bodies from the impact. This is why bicycle injuries can be severe or fatal. Approximately 130,000 bicyclists get injured in road accidents in the U.S. annually. Bicyclists should wear protective gear such as helmets to reduce impact in a collision. However, 13 states in the U.S., including Idaho, do not require cyclists to wear helmets for protection, which increases the risk of severe head, face, and neck injuries.
Road defects can lead to car accidents, especially if the road defect is at an intersection. For example, a traffic light malfunction at any intersection could increase the chances of a severe T-bone or head-on collision.
Poorly constructed roads impact the vehicle frame and can cause dents or scratches. In addition, a vehicle’s tires can also be damaged due to road defects. Highly defective roads could lead to severe accidents resulting in permanent injury or wrongful death. In the state of Colorado alone, there were 596 deaths due to crashes in 2019.
Poorly constructed or defective roadways can be hazardous for pedestrians as well. A pedestrian might be able to avoid a pothole on foot. Still, a driver would have to swerve to avoid it, which could lead them to collide unintentionally with a pedestrian. In Montana, close to 10% of car accident fatalities are pedestrians.
Establishing Liability in Road Defect Accidents
In most cases, it is either the state agencies, property or business owners, or construction companies that can be held responsible for the maintenance of the road to meet safety standards. If the road is under construction or defective, the authorities are responsible for informing motorists and other road users to be cautious on that stretch of the road.
If the agencies fail to do so, it can be regarded as negligence. However, proving liability can be tricky in these situations, as there are several factors that need to be considered. It is best to contact an auto accident attorney to discuss who can be held responsible for your accident and how to establish liability. The attorney can also guide you on how to gather the evidence required to prove liability.
Hire a Car Accident Attorney
It can be challenging to pursue litigation for auto accidents caused by road defects because you may need to be made aware of the statute of limitations of your state and other laws related to your case. Your best option would be to consult a qualified attorney.
Your attorney can assess the facts of your case and help you form a winning strategy to obtain a favorable verdict from the court or insurance company. The liability of the accident likely lies with a governmental agency, and pursuing litigation without the assistance of an experienced attorney would lessen your chances of a successful lawsuit.
Typically when governmental agencies are involved, the timeframe for filing a lawsuit is reduced to a couple of months. In addition, having an attorney by your side will allow you to focus on your recovery, as the attorney can handle communication with the insurance company, filing a claim, and preparing for a trial. You are welcome to contact us at Mountain States Injury Law to hire an experienced car accident attorney.