Injury Or Death From Missing Or Defective Traffic Control Device

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It might be possible to sue a governmental entity for injuries or death caused by missing or defective traffic control devices. A typical case involves a driver getting into an automobile accident when the traffic light gives the wrong signal or no signal at all. It can also involve stop signs that are misplaced or obscured by other objects.

What Do I Have To Prove To Sue For Injuries Or Death Caused By Missing Or Defective Traffic Control Device?

In order to bring a case against the governmental entity (usually a city, county, or state), you must show that:

   1. The entity had a duty to exercise reasonable care to maintain the traffic devices;
   2. The entity did not exercise reasonable care in carrying out its maintenance duties; and
   3. The entity's failure to exercise reasonable care caused the injury or death.

In addition, it might also be necessary for you to show that the entity actually had advance notice of the missing or defective traffic control and had enough time to fix the problem.

How Is It Determined Whether The Governmental Entity Has A Duty To Maintain Traffic Devices Or Not?

Usually, the determination of whether a governmental entity has a duty to maintain traffic devices or not is by looking at state or local statues that govern traffic safety or transportation. It is also possible that a governmental entity has a duty to maintain traffic devices based on the traditional law that governmental entities are responsible to keep the streets and highway in a condition that is safe for customary traveling.

How Do I Show That The Governmental Entity Did Not Exercise Reasonable Care?

Typically, one can show that the governmental entity did not exercise reasonable care in maintaining traffic control devices when the entity has learned of the problem and does not do anything to repair them, even though it has plenty of time to do so.

For an obscured stop sign, it is important to show that the sign was not visible at a sufficient distance from the intersection to a driver traveling at normal speed to stop before reaching the intersection.

What Defenses May The Governmental Entity Raise Against This Claim?

The governmental entity may be able to raise the following defenses to avoid liabilities:

   1. Governmental immunity;
   2. Insufficient notice of the problem to take remedial actions;
   3. Something other than the missing or defective traffic device caused the injury or death; and
   4. The injured party is also responsible for his/her own injuries/death (e.g. drunk driving).

Do you need an Attorney Experienced in Auto Accidents?

If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies. 

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Last Modified: 09-22-2011 02:14 PM PDT

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