Car accidents are often caused by negligent drivers, but roadway defects can also be causative factors in serious car accidents. When you get behind the wheel, you take on the enormous responsibility of abiding by the rules of the road and driving defensively to help keep our roadways safe for everyone. As motorists, however, we don’t expect to be endangered by road defects caused by negligent maintenance. Nevertheless, such defects are out there—and they can lead to serious accidents and injuries.
Car Wrecks Caused by Road Defects
Sometimes those responsible for maintaining safe road conditions are negligent in their duties, and that negligence can lead to serious injuries and significant property damage. While factors such as whether the road defect caused the accident, who was responsible for safely maintaining the road (or adequately warning drivers about potential hazards), and whether the agency responsible can be sued come into play in road defect claims, these claims are nonetheless important and worthy of pursuit.
Claims involving car accidents caused by road defects are often complicated, but if you or someone you care about has been so injured, your rights and your rightful compensation matter. The skilled car accident attorneys at the Law Office of William W. Hurst have significant experience handling road defect cases, and we’re here to help.
Roadway Maintenance and Responsibility
Our nation’s counties, cities, and states typically maintain our roads. Sometimes, more than one government agency will share the responsibility for specific roadways. For instance, the State of Indiana is responsible for paving and filling the potholes of many of our great state’s roads; specific cities, on the other hand, are usually responsible for plowing snow and deicing these same roads. Further, there are strict regulations in place that guide the implementation of road condition warning signs and safety mechanisms (such as guardrails) to help keep motorists safe.
Determining which agency is responsible for which aspect of road maintenance and if that agency can be sued can be a complex process, but the skilled guidance of an experienced car accident attorney will help you navigate toward the compensation to which you are entitled.
Proving Negligent Design or Maintenance
Once a road defect has caused you to be injured, what next? The first step is usually to determine who’s responsible for maintaining that roadway and then to identify how that agency was negligent in its responsibility. This last step typically involves illustrating that the government agency was responsible for the road’s maintenance and that the agency could have and should have repaired or taken care of the defect in the road but, instead, did nothing (or did too little) to mitigate the danger.
While ongoing road maintenance is critical to road safety, the safe design and construction of roadways are also elemental to keeping them safe for motorists. If a county, for instance, chooses to reduce funding for objectively beneficial guardrails and if a preventable accident ensues as a result, the county may well be found negligent.
Determining that a road defect caused an accident typically boils down to expert testimony. To guide your claim toward its best possible resolution, you’ll need a skilled car accident attorney with significant experience bringing road defect claims and obtaining necessary expert testimony. Such expert witnesses have the educational background, skill, and experience to examine the roadway in question, demonstrate its inherent defects and dangers, and gather and present necessary evidence in support of your claim.
Suing a Government Agency
Most government agencies are immune from lawsuits (known as sovereign immunity when applied to state and federal agencies and governmental immunity when applied to local government agencies). Such immunity can limit a victim’s ability to sue these agencies for damages. There are, however, specific exceptions to this immunity. One important exception is when a government agency exhibits significant negligence in the maintenance of safe roads.
What Kinds of Road Defects Constitute Negligence?
Potholes and sinkholes are obvious signs that a road isn’t well maintained. Cracked and broken roads are similar symbols of neglect. There are, however, plenty of other conditions that can signify negligent road maintenance:
- Inadequate, poor, or confusing street signage
- Absent or inadequate warning signs
- Broken or malfunctioning traffic signals
- Inadequate instructions for sections of road construction or for detours
- Insufficient or absent shoulders
- Debris from construction on the roadway
These are but a few of the many conditions that can signify agency negligence.
Requirements Specific to Indiana
If you’ve been injured in an Indiana road defect accident, first seek medical attention and then consult with experienced legal counsel. These claims are complicated and come equipped with special requirements, but a skilled car accident attorney will help you efficiently and effectively navigate your claim toward just resolution. In Indiana, you are required to notify the government agency alleged of negligence within 180 days of your accident and to file your claim within a two-year statute of limitations.
It sounds like a lot, but while you get down to the important work of physically recovering from your injuries, your car accident attorney will continue to advance your claim.
If a Road Defect Injured You, Contact Our Office Today to Consult with an Indianapolis Car Accident Attorney
If a road defect accident has left you or someone you care about injured, you know how difficult that can be. When you take to the road, you understand that you’re accepting an immense responsibility, but you naturally expect the roads you drive on to be reasonably well maintained. When this isn’t true, the consequences can be serious.
Government agencies are responsible for the reasonable maintenance of our roads, and when they’re negligent in this responsibility, drivers can suffer. If you’ve been injured in a road defect accident, you need skilled legal counsel. The experienced car accident lawyers at the Law Office of William W. Hurst are here to advocate for your rights and for your rightful compensation, so please schedule a free consultation today by contacting or calling us at (317) 636-0808.