While 90 percent of all auto accidents are caused by human mistakes, 1 in 10 are caused by some other factor, including poor road conditions. That could include some dangers posed by inclement weather, but primarily, we’re talking about conditions of the actual road or traffic engineering that make it unsafe.
Some examples might include:
- Obscured road signs;
- Worn/ uneven surfaces;
- Defective guardrails;
- Tar overbanding;
- Poor drainage;
- Ill-positioned tree/ pole/ bridge;
- Faded paint on the road;
- Inoperative/ non-existent traffic signals.
All these elements are the responsibility of city, county or state governments to maintain. A 2009 study commissioned by the Transportation Construction Coalition revealed that over the course of 18 months, poor highway design and conditions are a factor (if not the cause) of about half of all fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. Study authors opined bad highway design played a role in more motor vehicle deaths than speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and alcohol use.
In total, this issue was listed as a factor in 22,000 deaths and costs us all $218 billion a year.
How do we address this widespread issue? And how do we obtain justice for those affected?
As far as remedy, the Transportation Construction Coalition recommended:
- Widening shoulders;
- Widening/ replacing narrow bridges;
- Realigning crooked roads/
- Requiring breakaway light poles and sign posts;
- Using brighter colors to mark the pavement;
- Installing easier-to-read signs;
- Adding rumble strips;
- Constructing better guardrails.
Those who study the issue say much of the problem has to do with older roads/ poor maintenance as much as roads that were poorly designed. Much of the problem exists on back roads. Highways tend to be newer and better cared for. But that only accounts for 45,000 miles of the 3.9 million miles of road in the U.S.
That means in most cases where poor road conditions exist and factor in a crash, the liable entity is going to be a local government. And that brings us to the next issue of accountability. Victims of Fort Myers a car accidents who are injured as a result of the government’s failure to keep the road safe may be able to file a car accident claim and lawsuit against that agency. Bear in mind, though, that these claims can be more challenging than a typical car accident lawsuit.
Typically the first obstacle – and the reason many of these cases never see the light of day – is that the victim doesn’t realize that poor road conditions were a factor. This is especially true when there may have been multiple factors at issue. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced accident lawyer review the case.
Secondly, suing a government agency can be complicated because there are many laws that are intended to protect government agencies from litigation. It starts with sovereign immunity, which prohibits litigation against government agencies. However, most government agencies offer a waiver of liability under certain conditions, and making sure your claim meets the criteria is essential. There might also be tighter deadlines for these claims, so it’s important not to delay in speaking with an attorney.
In order to prevail in such a claim, the American Bar Association indicates the following elements must be proven:
- Public agency owned/ controlled the roads involved in the crash;
- Road had a dangerous condition at the time of the crash;
- The dangerous condition caused the crash;
- The crash occurred in such a way that the government agency could have reasonably anticipated it as a result of the dangerous condition;
- The dangerous condition resulted either form the negligence of the agency or else its failure to timely respond in response to actual/ constructive notice of the dangerous condition.
If you have been injured in a Fort Myers auto accident, we will work to help you recover all the damages to which you are entitled.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Bad Highway Design, Conditions Contribute to Half of Fatal Auto Crashes in U.S., July 2, 2009, By Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post
More Blog Entries:
Fatal Car Accidents In Lee County Now Total 75 in 2016, Oct. 1, 2016, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog