California Hazardous Road Lawyers
A majority of California car accidents occur because of driver error, negligence or wrongdoing. There are still a number of accidents, however, that are the direct result of a dangerous or defective roadway condition. In such cases, the governmental agency responsible for designing and/or maintaining the roadway can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused.
The experienced California hazardous roads lawyers at Bisnar Chase know what it takes to deal with governmental agencies. We are familiar with the bureaucracy and red tape that can pose significant challenges and roadblocks in these types of cases.
In the past we have been able to find solutions and fight for our injured clients' rights. Our dangerous roads attorney obtained a $5 million settlement for a brain-injured California teenager who suffered catastrophic injuries after being struck by a vehicle at a very dangerous intersection while riding his bike.
Please contact us at 949-203-3814 to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights from a California Hazardous Roads Lawyer.
Deficient Roadway Conditions
According to a recent study conducted by the Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation (PIRE), more than half of U.S. highway fatalities are related to deficient roadway conditions. It may come as a surprise to many that dangerous and defective roadways are substantially a more lethal factor than drunk driving, speeding or non-use of safety belts.
Ten roadway-related crashes occur every minute, totaling to 5.3 million a year. Hazardous roadways also cause or contribute to 38 percent of non-fatal injuries, the report found. The PIRE report also revealed that roadway deficiencies contributed to more than 22,000 fatalities and cost the nation more than $217 billion each year.
The study identifies various methods by which transportation officials can improve roadway conditions in order to save lives and reduce injuries. These include:
- Replacing "non-forgiving" poles with breakaway poles
- Using brighter and more durable pavement markings
- Adding rumble strips to shoulders
- Mounting more guardrails or safety barriers
- Installing better signs that are easier to read
- Adding or widening shoulders
- Improving roadway alignment
- Reducing pavement edges and abrupt drop offs
- Widening or replacing narrow bridges
Based on a state-by-state analysis, California is on the top 10 list of states that have the highest total cost from crashes involving deficient roadway conditions, the highest road-related crash costs per million vehicle miles of travel and the highest road-related crash costs per mile of roadway.
Examples of Hazardous Roadway Conditions
Examples of hazardous roadway conditions that often contribute to serious injury accidents in California include:
- Clear zone issues: This is when a fixed object such as a utility pole, tree or water drain is creating a hazard.
- Poor intersection geometry: The design of some intersections makes them unsafe. Narrow roads and intersections with sharp turns are particularly dangerous.
- Lack of signage: Some roadways require warning signs to prevent accidents. Motorists should be warned of areas that are prone to icing over or roadways that are especially windy.
- Dangerous shoulder drop-offs: Some shoulders drop a few inches from the roadway. Low shoulders can cause a vehicle to veer out of control or make it difficult for motorists to safely reenter traffic.
- Potholes: Big chunks of missing asphalt and blacktop should be replaced immediately. These large holes are particularly hazardous for motorcyclists.
- Poorly placed work zones: Road crews must use caution when setting up work zones and placing warning signs. Drivers must do their best to exercise care when driving through cones, signs and other construction hazards.
- Signal problems: When there are problems with traffic signalization, it can create confusion and dangerous intersections.
- Poorly placed entrance and exit ramps: Some ramps are inherently dangerous because the incline is too steep or the length of the exit is not sufficient enough to allow vehicles to slow down.
- Visual obstructions: The governing body in charge of the roadway must properly trim trees, shrubs and vines that obscure roadway signs.
- Wheel ruts: These are grooves on the road that need to be resurfaced and smoothed out. Repeated stress from the weight of vehicles can wear down a road until it is no longer safe.
- Debris: It is illegal for drivers to drop debris on the roadway.
When is the Government Liable?
There are circumstances when the government can be held accountable for a dangerous roadway accident. According to California's Government Code section 835, a public entity or governmental agency can be held liable for injuries or damages caused by a condition of pubic property when the injured person proves that:
- A dangerous condition existed at the time of the incident or injury.
- The injury or death was proximately caused by that hazardous condition.
- The hazardous condition created a foreseeable risk of injury of the kind that occurred.
Governmental agencies often try to defend themselves in such cases by showing that it would have been cost prohibitive or impractical for them to have done anything about the dangerous condition. California Government Code Section 830.4 also states that a dangerous condition cannot be the absence of traffic control or warning signs alone. Most importantly, under California Government Code Section 911.2, any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed within 180 days of the incident.
If you have had a dangerous roads accident and need help, contact us at 949-203-3814 for a free consultation with a defective roadway attorney.