Defective Roadway Design and Maintenance
Although most car accidents are the result of driver error or manufacturer negligence, many crashes occur because of problems with roadway design or construction mistakes. Both state and federal regulations require highway design engineers to follow certain standards when planning roads. Unfortunately, city governments and contractors do not always comply with these standards, which can have devastating consequences for unsuspecting motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. Filing a claim against a negligent government body is complicated, so if you were injured in an accident that was caused by a road defect, it is critical to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney who can ensure that your claim is filed correctly and on time.
Generally, unsafe roadways fall under one of two categories, poorly maintained roads and poorly designed roads. Improperly designed roads usually involve one of the following problems:
- Tight curves that do not accommodate posted speed limits;
- Lanes that are not long enough to allow cars to merge safely;
- Inadequate or unclear road markings;
- Overly narrow lanes;
- Road signs that are not visible to drivers;
- Dangerous potholes or drop-offs;
- Blind intersections;
- Improper grading and uneven roadways; and
- An insufficient number of guardrails.
The second type of claim involving unsafe roads occurs when a government agency failed to properly maintain a roadway, which resulted in an accident. Examples of defective maintenance include:
- Debris or construction equipment left on the road;
- Severe potholes;
- The presence of excessive gravel or oil spills;
- Malfunctioning traffic signals; and
- Excessive foliage that makes it difficult to see road signs.
When a road defect involves the use of a negligent design or improper maintenance, the city, county, or state could be held legally responsible for resulting injuries. However, government agencies are generally protected from suit by the legal theory of sovereign immunity. Fortunately, injured parties can still file claims against the government in certain situations, including when the wrongful act or omission of a government employee causes injury, property damage, or death to another individual. There are limits to how much an injured party can collect from the government in damages. For example, car accident victims who were injured as a result of a government employee’s negligent maintenance of a roadway cannot collect punitive damages. Furthermore, damages are generally limited to either $200,000, although the amount can be increased to $300,000 if the case involves multiple agencies.
Injured parties are also required to follow strict procedural guidelines when filing a claim against the government. For instance, Florida law requires injured parties to first file a notice of claim with the agency in question within three years of the date of the accident. A formal lawsuit cannot be filed in court until this step has been taken. The agency will also be granted 180 days to investigate the claim.
Please Call an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a defectively designed or maintained road, please contact Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 to speak with a dedicated auto accident attorney who can explain your legal options. Our Fort Lauderdale legal team is eager to assist you today.