The government agency responsible for your roadways, whether city, county, town, or state, should be expected to maintain safe roads within its jurisdiction for the welfare of motorists and their passengers. However, the government unfortunately doesn’t uphold its end of the bargain far too often, which results in injuries an deaths. In Riverside alone, California’s Office of Traffic Safety had 2,119 reported traffic injuries and fatalities in 2017; many due to hazardous conditions on the city’s roads as well as the 215, 91, and 15 freeways nearby. These heavily traveled roadways need constant maintenance to keep them in safe working order for local motorists as well as commercial trucks and travelers passing through.
Unsafe conditions can lead to injuries from SUV rollover accidents, collisions involving construction equipment/crews/vehicles, semi-truck jackknife accidents, losing control from spills on the roadway not cleaned, striking objects in the road, and other collisions resulting from negligent maintenance. These injuries can be catastrophic or even fatal for innocent motorists, but those responsible may be liable for their actions. If you or a loved one were injured due to unsafe conditions on negligently maintained roadways, contact an experienced Riverside Highway and Road Defects Attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
What Is the Government’s Duty to Motorists?
The government has a legal duty to motorists and passengers to reasonably maintain roads and highways in its jurisdiction and keep them safe. In California, the government charged with maintaining the road at issue has a reasonable amount of time to both become aware of any dangerous road condition and repair the condition. Dangerous conditions in Riverside are usually discovered through regular road surveys, consistent maintenance schedules and routines, and reports from community members of conditions they noticed. The government’s failure to discover and correct conditions can lead to liability. It can even incur liability without actual knowledge of the condition – if it existed for long enough the government should have known about the condition through reasonable inspection, they’re deemed “on notice” of the condition through constructive knowledge.
What Kinds of Defects Can Cause Injury?
The government must reasonably inspect for, discover, and repair unsafe road conditions or it face potential liability for damages that result. Common unsafe conditions on roads and highways include:
- Fallen, overgrown, or missing road signs,
- Potholes or cracks,
- Lack of highway rumble strips,
- Damaged or missing guardrails,
- Faded or missing lane and edge lines,
- Poorly lit roads or malfunctioning lights,
- Flooding from clogged drains, and
- Malfunctioning or nonexistent stop lights.
Can I Sue the Government for My Injuries?
Under the doctrines of “sovereign immunity” and “governmental immunity,” governments and their agencies are generally immune from liability in civil lawsuits. However, the California Torts Claims Act have a few exceptions that do allow a private party to bring legal action against the government – negligent failure to maintain roadways is usually one of those exceptions. In some cases, you must go show more than the usual negligence standard and prove gross negligence, conduct which is considered very negligent, existed in order to overcome sovereign immunity. Consulting with an experienced Riverside Highway and Roads Defect Lawyer can help you understand whether the exception applies to your case and how to establish gross negligence if need be.
Can I Sue Anyone Else Responsible for My Injuries?
In some cases, victims can sue someone other than the government for their injuries. Sovereign immunity doesn’t apply to non-government companies, so they can be sued the same as any normal person or company for personal injuries. Substandard repair work by government subcontractors can lead to liability for both the subcontractor as well as the government. Additionally, victims may establish liability on the part of 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 Win My Case?
Victims injured due to defects on a highway or other road often seek compensation by arguing someone else’s negligence caused their damages. Once you prove the defendant owed you a legal duty of care, breached the duty by acting or failing to act when needed, and caused your harms as a result of their breach, they are presumed negligent and will be responsible for your damages without a valid defense. Even if you’re partially at fault for the damages, you may still be able to recover some compensation under California’s doctrine of comparative negligence.
The government may be liable for damages from many different types of negligence. Not only do they have a duty to maintain and repair roadways, they have a duty to remove hazards, construct the roads in a safe way using good quality materials and labor, and create safe road designs.
What Can I Recover from My Highway or Road Defect Injury?
Once you establish that the defendant was negligent and is liable for your injuries, you may be awarded damages to make you whole for their injuries. No amount of money will take away the trauma you experienced, but it can help compensate you for concrete injuries you suffered as well as less quantifiable mental, emotional, and psychological trauma inflicted by the accident. Victims often receive compensatory damage awards for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and permanent scarring, disability, and/of disfigurement.
Sometimes the wrongdoer’s conduct is so vile or reprehensible that is may merit an additional damage award for the victim in order to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are completely discretionary and require satisfying a high burden of proof, so working with an experienced local highway and roads defect lawyer can help you put your best foot forward for your case.
Contact an Attorney
If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident due to a problem on the road you were traveling, speak with the skilled Riverside Highway and Road Defect Attorneys at Walton Law, APC to hold the at-fault parties financially accountable and fight for the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys spent years delivering personalized, aggressive representation to victims like you against government and private companies alike for their dangerous roadways. Contact us today to schedule a no risk, no obligation initial case evaluation; we’re available 24/7 at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page. The first consultation is free, and you pay nothing until we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys examine the facts of your unique situation and help you get the best possible result so you can get your life back on track.