It’s a reasonable expectation that even if other drivers don’t behave safely, the highways and roads themselves should be. However, all too often those responsible for maintaining safe roadways fall down on the job. In Menifee alone, California’s Office of Traffic Safety reported 350 traffic injuries and fatalities in 2016; many of these were at least partially caused by dangerous conditions on the city’s roads as well as the 215 and 15 freeways nearby. These roads, heavily traveled by commuters, recreational motorists, and commercial trucks, require regular maintenance and vigilance to keep them in good working order for everyone that travels them.
Dangerous road and highway conditions can cause serious accidents such as rollovers, jackknifes, striking objects in the road, collisions with construction equipment or vehicles at a site on the road, and running off the road due to spills on the road or missing guardrails to prevent leaving the roadways. These accidents often cause severe or fatal injuries that could have been avoided by taking reasonable care of the roads that drivers and their passengers travel. If you or a loved one were injured due to dangerous conditions on negligently maintained roadways, contact an experienced Menifee Highway and Road Defects Attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Who’s Supposed to Keep Highways and Roads Safe?Road and highway maintenance are the responsibility of the whatever government’s jurisdiction – municipal, city, state – they’re located within; that government has a legal duty to motorists and passengers to reasonably maintain roads and highways in a safe condition. In California, the government responsible for maintaining the road at issue has a reasonable amount of time to both become aware of any dangerous road condition and repair the condition.
Governments usually discover dangerous conditions by performing regular road surveys, following consistent maintenance schedules, and following up on reports of hazards from motorists. A government failure to discover and correct conditions in a timely manner can lead to liability; however, they may even incur liability for conditions of which they are unaware. Under constructive knowledge, if a hazardous condition existed long enough the government should’ve known about it by reasonable inspection, they’re presumed to have notice about it.
What Are Typical Highway and Road Defects in Menifee?The duty to reasonably inspect for, discover, and repair unsafe road conditions means the government has many responsibilities it must handle or else face potential liability for injuries. Though any number of defects can indicate negligence occurred, some are more common than others. These include:
- Cracks in the road,
- Road signs that are missing, covered by foliage, or fallen,
- Lack of highway rumble strips,
- Damaged or missing guardrails,
- Faded or missing lane and edge lines,
- Poorly lit roads,
- Broken or missing stop lights,
- Lack of stop signs at major intersections, and
- Flooding from clogged drains.
How Do I Sue a Government?Governments and government agencies are usually immune from civil lawsuit liability through sovereign and governmental immunity. However, in a few situations the California Torts Claims Act allow a private party to bring legal action against the government – negligent failure to maintain roadways usually is an exception. However, sometimes you must prove a higher standard than general negligence. Gross negligence, which is conduct worse than mere negligence, must be demonstrated in some cases to defeat sovereign immunity. Due to the difficulties of suing the government, working with an experienced Menifee Highway and Roads Defect Lawyer can help you understand the circumstances surrounding your unique case and overcome procedural hurdles to filing suit.
Is the Government the Only One I Can Sue for Damages?Sometimes, the government isn’t the only one responsible for your injuries. Sovereign immunity doesn’t apply to non-government companies, so they can be sued just the same as any normal person for personal injuries. This is once reason a thorough investigation following your injury is critical to determine the parties responsible for the defect. Also, if a government subcontractor performs substandard construction or repair work, both they and the government may be negligent and liable. Victims may also be able to hold 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 liable for negligence.
How Do I Win My Case?Victims injured from road and highway defects often try to recover damages by alleging someone’s negligence cause their injuries. Once you establish this, without a valid the defense the defendant is presumed negligent and liable for your injuries. You must demonstrate a defendant:
- Owed you a legal duty of care,
- Breached that duty by action or omission, and
- Caused you actual harm from that breach.
Governments may be negligence for a variety of failures in their duty to you. They not only have a duty to maintain and repair roadways, but also a duty to remove hazards, construct roads in a safe way using high quality materials and labor, and design roadways to be safe.
How Much Can I Recover for My Injuries?After establishing a defendant’s liability for the defect and your injuries, victims may be awarded damages for injuries they can prove to a court. Though nothing will undo the harm you’ve suffered, compensatory damages can help make you whole. Courts may give awards for both concrete, quantifiable injuries as well as more abstract harms reflecting mental or emotional trauma. Common injuries include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium.
In some circumstances the defendant’s conduct is so egregious a victim may be awarded additional damages to punish the defendant and deter repetition of the conduct. Punitive damages are given at the court’s discretion and require satisfying a high burden of proof, so working with an experienced local highway and roads defect lawyer can help you avoid costly legal missteps.
Contact an AttorneyIf you or a loved one were involved in a car accident due to a dangerous roadway condition, you should contact the skilled Menifee Highway and Road Defect Attorneys at Walton Law, APC today. We’ll use our knowledge and resources to help you hold the negligent parties accountable for defects that caused your injuries and work to get you the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys have years of experience providing dedicated, aggressive representation for victims just like you and recovered millions in damages for their injuries. Contact us today to schedule your no risk, no obligation initial case evaluation; we’re available 24/7 at (866)-338-7079 or by using our online Contact Page. The consultation is free, and you don’t pay until we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys review your unique case and fight to help you get the best possible outcome from an unfortunate, avoidable situation.