Cities, counties, states and the federal government all have responsibility for maintaining roads to a suitable standard. If regular maintenance is cut back due to budget constraints or the road is poorly designed in the first place, it is probably going to result in more accidents. If you have suffered an injury while driving due to poor road conditions then you may be able to claim compensation from whichever agency is responsible for road design or upkeep. No claims against government entities are easy, so you are advised to contact a lawyer before you file a claim.
Why Poor Road Conditions May Be the Responsibility of the Government
Poor road conditions cover a large number of possible issues. Poor road design may mean that a bend is too tight, or the camber on a road is too steep, visibility around a bend is too restricted, or a road is too narrow to take the amount of traffic. Road construction may use poor materials or the engineering is poor, leaving a road surface that crumbles away too easily, leaving potholes, bumps, corrugations, or uneven dips in the road. Irregular or suspended maintenance programs can cause similar problems to occur. Any one of these poor road conditions may be responsible for an accident and associated injuries. The problem for the injured party is identifying which department is responsible for a particular accident. This can take careful research to discover. There may be more than one party responsible for the poor road conditions, each of which may have a different degree of fault.
Filing a Claim Against a Government Entity
Unless you have an accident on a private road, it will mean making your claim against one or another government entity, e.g. a state highways maintenance department. You do need to identify exactly which government departments are responsible for the poor road conditions before initiating a claim.
Because most government entities have sovereign immunity, it makes it more protracted, but not impossible, to claim compensation after an accident on a public road. Basically, you normally have to submit a “notice of claim,” which is an intention to claim compensation within a specified time limit, often as little as 6 months from the date of the accident. In most cases, your notice will be investigated and you should get a response again within a certain time frame. If you are not satisfied with the response you are then allowed to pursue the compensation through a personal injury claim.
Will a Lawyer Take My Case?
In any case involving poor road conditions you are strongly advised to use a personal injury lawyer to provide legal help. The lawyer will have dealt with claims of this type before and will know who the claim should be addressed to and what should be included with it so that it has a good chance of receiving attention. Most PI lawyers work on contingency fee arrangements, and will only charge a fee if the case is successful. That also means that they will only take a case if it has a reasonable chance of success.
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