It’s not unreasonable to expect that roads and highways be designed, constructed, and maintained so they’re safe to travel – there are plenty of other hazards already! Unfortunately, the people responsible for keeping roads safe fail to do so quite often. Even in Lake Elsinore, a relatively small town of 66,000, 312 traffic-related injuries and fatalities occurred in a single year. Some are due to the heavy volume of tourists to the area as well, commuters, and the busy commercial trucking routes along the 15 freeway – Riverside County is the third busiest for big rigs and other large trucks in the entire state. Other accidents are attributable to bad driving behavior such as speeding and distracted driving. However, many were at least partly caused by dangerous conditions on the city’s roads as well as the 15 freeway.
Highway and road defects can cause any number of collisions resulting in serious injury or fatalities – semi-truck jackknifes, rollovers, sideswipes, leaving the road due to lack of guardrails, and striking construction equipment/sites or objects in the road are unfortunately far too common. The tragedy is made even greater knowing many of these accidents were preventable but for someone’s failure to properly care for roads traveled by the public. If you or a loved one were hurt by dangerous conditions while traveling, contact an experienced Lake Elsinore Highway and Road Defects Attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation.
Who is Responsible for Lake Elsinore’s Highways and Roads? Design, construction, maintenance, and repair of roads and highways are the responsibility of the government whose jurisdiction – be it local, municipal, city, or state – they’re in; that government is charged with the duty to reasonably maintain roads and highways in a safe condition. This also includes a duty to reasonably inspect for dangerous conditions, become aware of them, and repair them within a reasonable time. Conducting regular road surveys, observing regular maintenance schedules and routines, and checking resident reports of hazards are all methods the government uses to uphold its duty to motorists and passengers alike.
It’s particularly important they keep to a regular schedule – failure to discover and correct conditions in a timely manner can lead to liability even for conditions they don’t know exist. If a hazardous condition existed long enough the government should’ve known about it by reasonable inspection, they’re presumed to have constructive notice of the hazard.
Common Highway and Road Defects The government has many responsibilities to the public when it comes to roads and highways in its jurisdiction. When they fail in their job and don’t reasonably inspect, discover, or repair hazards, their negligence can result in common defects like:
- Missing, fallen, or overgrown road signs,
- Potholes and road cracks,
- Lack of rumble strips,
- Damaged and missing guardrails,
- Faded and absent lane lines,
- Poorly lit roads,
- Broken stop lights, and
- Clogged drains.
Can I Sue the Government? Usually, you can’t civilly sue governments and government agencies because of sovereign and governmental immunity. However, sometimes you can sue under at exception to the California Torts Claims Act – for example, claiming negligent failure to maintain roadways. However, you must often prove gross negligence – a showing of worse conduct than general negligence – to overcome immunity. In these cases, working with an experienced Lake Elsinore Highway and Roads Defect Lawyer can help you understand and overcome difficulties in holding the government account for your injuries.
What if Someone Else Injured Me? The government may not be the only one responsible for your injuries. If a non-government company was negligent, they can be sued like any normal person because sovereign immunity doesn’t apply. This is one reason it’s critical to conduct a thorough investigation finding who’s at fault for the defect. If instead a government subcontractor was negligent, both they and the government may bear liability. Also, manufacturers designing or building defective traffic signs and equipment, construction companies performing substandard construction or maintenance work on highways and roads, and companies manufacturing faulty asphalt for roads and highways may be liable.
Can I Win? Victims injured in accidents like this typically sue for damages and argue someone’s negligence harmed them. If negligence is proven, the defendant will be liable for your injuries unless they’ve got a valid defense. Generally, negligence is proven by proving the defendant owed you a legal duty, breached it through an act or omission, and that breach injured you.
However, in cases involving motor vehicle accidents it can also be helpful to argue negligence per se if you can prove the defendant harmed you while breaking any law or regulation intended to promote safety – including traffic laws like speeding or texting and driving. If you have evidence to establish their violation, whether it’s eyewitness accounts, admission by the other driver, police reports, traffic cameras, or on-scene evidence such as skid marks, the defendant is presumed to have acted negligently.
With defect cases, there are several ways a government could be negligent. They not only have a duty to maintain and repair roadways, but also a duty to remove hazards, construct safe roads using high quality materials and labor, and design safe roads.
What’s My Case Worth? Anyone involved in a severe accident knows firsthand how damaging it can be. Because of this, courts may award damages for injuries caused by a negligent party. Though nothing takes away your traumatic experience, you may recovery for proven physical, financial, emotional, and psychological harms inflicted by the accident. It’s common to see compensatory damage awards for:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Sometimes, a victim may be entitled to an award of additional damages if a defendant’s behavior was vile or reprehensible. Because punitive damages are meant to punish bad behavior and prevent its repetition, whether they are awarded as well as the amount of the award are discretionary and there’s a high burden of proof to satisfy. To avoid costly pitfalls in your case, it’s advisable to work with an experienced Lake Elsinore highway and roads defect lawyer.
Contact an Attorney If you were hurt in a car accident caused by a dangerous road condition, don’t wait. Contact the skilled Lake Elsinore Highway and Road Defect Attorneys at Walton Law, APC to protect your rights and give yourself the best chance of recovery. We’ve had years of experience using our knowledge and resources to deliver focused, professional representation for victims like you and recovered millions in compensation. Contact us today to schedule your risk free, confidential case review; we’re available 24/7 at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page. The initial consultation is free, and you pay nothing until we recover for you. Let our experienced attorneys fight to secure the best possible outcome from your needless tragedy.