It’s reasonable to expect the government responsible for your roadways – be it City, County, Town, or State – to keep your roads safe and protect motorists and their passengers. Unfortunately, the government often falls down on the job and innocent people are hurt or killed as a result. In Hemet alone, California’s Office of Traffic Safety reported 638 injuries and fatalities from traffic collisions in 2016; many of these wrecks were at least caused in part by defects on city roads as well as the major freeways in and around the city. The heavy traffic on these roadways means they are in need of constant maintenance and vigilance for any new hazards that arise each day to keep them safe for motorists, visitors, and commercial truckers in the area.
Road and highway hazards can cause injuries due to SUV rollover accidents on overly sharp curves on poorly designed roads, collisions with road construction equipment/crews/vehicles/sites or road maintenance crews, losing control from standing spills on the roadways, striking objects left in the road, running off a road because of missing or broken guardrails, and other crashes resulting from negligence. These injuries can hurt and kill innocent people, but those responsible may be held liable. If you or a loved one were injured due to unsafe conditions or negligently maintained roadways, contact an experienced Hemet Highway and Road Defects Attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation.
What Is the Government’s Responsibility?
The government has a duty to reasonably maintain safe roads and highways in its jurisdiction. In California, the government responsible for the road at issue has reasonable amount of time to learn of any dangerous road condition and repair that hazardous condition. In Hemet, dangerous road conditions are usually found through regular surveys of city roads and the relevant are of the 10, 15, and 215 freeways, regular maintenance schedules, and reports of unsafe conditions from community. Failing to discover and correct these conditions is negligent and can create liability. The government may also be liable even without actual knowledge of the condition under the doctrine of constructive knowledge – if the condition existed long enough the government should have known about it through reasonable inspection, they’re deemed to have been on notice it exited.
Common Highway and Road Defects
The government has a legal duty to reasonably inspect for, discover, and repair hazards and unsafe conditions on the road – failing to do so can make them liable for resulting injuries. Though anything road condition can cause accidents and injuries, common hazards and road defects include:
- Fallen, covered, or missing road signs,
- Potholes or cracks in the road,
- Lack of highway rumble strips,
- Damaged or missing guardrails,
- Faded or missing lane and edge lines,
- Poorly lit roads or insufficient lighting,
- Flooding from clogged drains, and
- Malfunctioning stop lights.
Who Can I Sue for a Highway or Road Defect?
Governments and their agencies are usually immune from lawsuits under the doctrines of sovereign immunity and governmental immunity. However, sometimes you may sue the government under exceptions to the California Torts Claims Act. A negligent failure to maintain roadways is usually one of those exceptions. In some cases, you must prove gross negligence – extremely negligent conduct – to overcome immunity. Consulting an experienced Hemet Highway and Roads Defect Lawyer can help you understand whether the exception applies and how best to approach your case.
Sometimes, victims can sue parties besides the government for negligent infliction of injuries. Non-government entities aren’t immune and can be sued like any normal person or company. Substandard repair work by government subcontractors can also lead to liability for both the subcontractor and the government entity responsible for contracting them. Victims may also sue establish non-contracted private companies for negligence, such as construction companies performing substandard construction or maintenance work on highways and roads, manufacturers designing or building defective stoplights, and companies producing faulty asphalt used to pave roads and highways.
How Do I Hold Someone Accountable for My Injuries?
Victims often argue for compensation by arguing someone’s negligence caused their injuries. Proving negligence involves establishing a defendant breached a duty they owed to you and caused your injuries during the breach. The government owes you several duties of care, including:
- Maintaining, inspecting, and repairing roads in a reasonably manner to keep them safe,
- Removing hazards in a timely manner,
- Constructing roadways in a safe way and using quality materials and labor, and
- Designing safe roads.
Nongovernment entities and government subcontractors also have a duty not to perform substandard work or use poor quality materials. After proving the elements, a defendant will be deemed negligent and liable for your damages without a valid defense. Even if you’re partially at fault for an accident that caused your harm, you may still be able to recover some compensation under California’s doctrine of comparative negligence if another party was also negligent.
What Damages Can I Recover?
It’s normal to wonder what your case and injuries are worth. Though no amount of money will undo the trauma you’ve endured, courts may award you damages for the injuries you’ve suffered in an attempt to make you whole. Victims may recover for physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and financial injuries including:
- Medical bills,
- Property damage,
- Lost wages,
- Pain and suffering,
- Permanent disability or disfigurement, and
- Loss of consortium.
In some cases, the defendant’s conduct is so egregious that victims may receive additional damages from the court to punish their reprehensible behavior and discourage its repetition in the future. Punitive damages are at the discretion of the court and awards may be quite large, so you must satisfy a very high burden of proof to be eligible. The difficulty of proving a defendant’s mindset and satisfying the burden of proof are best handled by a skilled attorney to avoid potentially costly legal missteps.
Contact an Attorney
If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident because the road you were traveling was unsafe in some way, speak with the skilled Hemet Highway and Road Defect Attorneys at Walton Law, APC to hold the negligent parties accountable and fight for the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys have years of experiencing providing comprehensive, dedicated representation for victims like you against government entities and private companies alike and their dangerous roadways. Contact us today to schedule a no risk, no obligation initial case evaluation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page. The confidential consultation is free, and you don’t pay until we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys examine the facts of your unique situation and help secure the best possible outcome from this bad situation starting today.