Car Accidents Caused by Hazardous Roadway Conditions


Each year, thousands of Americans are injured or killed on roads and highways simply due to poor road conditions. Poor conditions can be a result of natural events like flash floods or ice storms, but dangerous conditions can also result from poor upkeep and physical condition. Even though there are state and federal laws in place that require cities to maintain safe roadways, it’s impossible to ensure that every single road is totally safe.

The Federal Highway Administration is the U.S. agency responsible for assisting local and state governments design, build and maintain safe roadways. They monitor accidents, making regular inspections of accident scenes where road maintenance, design or defects either are, or are suspected to be, contributing factors.

These agencies are also responsible for providing proper signage, lighting, pavement markings, signals and traffic control services. If such necessary precautions aren’t in place, and an accident occurs due to hazardous road conditions, the responsible government agencies may be liable.

The most common road conditions that contribute to car accidents include:

  • Cracks and potholes
  • Lack of traffic signals
  • Lack of appropriate road markings or faded paint
  • Overly bright lights or lack of lighting
  • Damaged, missing or hidden signs (due to overgrown foliage)
  • Blind curves or poorly banked roads
  • Inappropriate road materials
  • Broken or inadequate guardrails
  • Low bridges or incorrect bridge markings
  • Lack of rumble strips on freeways
  • Poor traffic control in construction zones
  • Construction materials that obstruct a driver’s vision
  • Lack of salt on roads or plowing during winter weather

So, what do you do if you’re in a car accident caused by poor or hazardous road conditions?

If you believe that your accident and resulting injuries were caused by poor maintenance, whether by faulty design or a defect in the roadway, the first thing you need to do is report the accident. Contact your insurance agency and provide details from the incident. Even if the accident only involves one vehicle (you), most liability policies will cover property damage and injuries from accidents that occur on roads and highways.

If your accident occurred due to hazardous road conditions, such as those previously listed, you also have the option of pursuing a claim against the government agencies responsible for designing, building or maintaining the roads where your accident occurred. However, this can be where things get tricky. Dealing with government agencies can be complicated since there are several federal, state, county and city departments that may be involved.

You may not know exactly what caused your accident, so it sometimes takes trained investigators to determine whether or not hazardous road conditions were in fact the cause. This is where experienced professionals come in; you’ll need to hire a lawyer to take on your case against the responsible public entity(s) (i.e. government agencies).

As the injured party, your team will have to prove the following five elements in order to validate claims that your accident and/or injuries were caused by hazardous road conditions:

  1. The road involved was in dangerous condition at the time of the accident
  2. The dangerous condition caused the accident
  3. The public entity (i.e. responsible government agencies) owned or controlled the roads involved in the accident
  4. The accident occurred in a way that the public entity could reasonably anticipate would result from the dangerous condition
  5. The dangerous condition resulted from the public entity’s carelessness or from the entity’s failure to take reasonably prompt remedial action in response to receiving notice of the dangerous condition

If you can prove these five elements, the government will be found liable for your accident and any injuries incurred. If you have been involved in an accident caused by hazardous roadway conditions, contact the skilled and proven team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (601) 948-1600 for a free case consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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