There are so many distractions for drivers today. We have to contend with people driving while using cell phones, GPS, and other technology. We have to deal with inexperienced drivers distracted by their friends in the car or what music they are = playing. We also have to deal with sharing the roadways with pedestrians, bikes, motorcycles, and now the ubiquitous electric scooter in virtually ever city across the country.
There are numerous challenges for drivers as we take to the streets to get to work, school, or the next destination on our list of daily errands. When road hazards like debris and potholes are thrown into the mix, driving becomes a necessary evil that requires our undivided attention—no matter where we’re going.
Determining Liability in Road Hazard Car Accidents
If a road hazard causes your car to collide with another vehicle or stationery object such as an electric pole or tree, you may have a valid personal injury claim. But road hazard car accident claims are a bit different than typical car accident claims in which another driver is liable for the damage to your car and any injuries you’ve suffered. When a road hazard is the cause of your car accident, determining who the at-fault parties are is of utmost importance.
While some hazards on roadways are entirely man-made or occur naturally like potholes, they can be avoided through proper maintenance or adequate warnings to drivers. “Acts of God” that could not have been prevented, like a tree falling on your car or in front of your car during a severe thunderstorm could not have been avoided with maintenance or adequate warning—unless Mother Nature were able to send you a shout out.
The following parties may be liable in a road hazard car accident:
Government entities: County, local, and state governments have legal responsibilities for maintaining public roads; however, some road hazards arise with no warning. When a government agency fails to maintain a road, fails to warn drivers about dangerous road conditions, or fails to close a road that is too dangerous, it may be held liable for any accidents and injuries that occur.
Civil engineers, contractors: Those who design, build, repair, and maintain roads also have a duty to perform their jobs responsibly. An engineering company that designs a road that’s inherently dangerous could have liability to anyone injured as a result of that danger. If a road crew contractor builds a road with inadequate materials or techniques, or fails to post warnings about rough road conditions during construction, they could be held liable for any accidents and injuries that occur.
Road materials and equipment manufacturers: If the material used to build a road is defective or if equipment such as signage and guardrails don’t meet minimum standards of safety and performance, the manufacturer of said equipment may be held liable for any accidents or injuries.
Property owners: Those who own property along a roadway and fail to maintain its safety may be held liable for any injuries that occur due to their negligence.
Vehicle owners and operators: If cargo comes flying off the back of a truck and causes an accident and injuries, the driver/owner of that vehicle may be held liable for the damages. If unsecured cargo from a large commercial truck caused your accident and injuries, you will need an experienced truck accident attorney who handles these complex cases. Determining liability in truck accident cargo claims is complicated; many parties may be considered legally responsible for the accident.
As with any car accident, there are some crucial steps that need to be taken if you’re physically able to do so.
- Document as much about the scene of the accident and the damage to your car as possible.
- Take photos and videos of any roadway hazards and the physical surroundings where the accident occurred.
- Jot down contact information of any eyewitnesses to your accident, and file a police report.
Your personal injury attorney will need this information during your no-cost consultation; examination of the preliminary findings will allow your attorney to get an idea of who’s liable for the accident and how best to proceed with a claim.