There are many factors which may contribute to an auto accident. Negligence is one of the most common reasons for auto accidents, as the term “negligence” applied to vehicle crashes covers a wide range of causes. Some examples of this include, but may not be limited to:
- Failing to obey traffic laws;
- Distracted driving;
- Failing to maintain control of the vehicle; and
- Failing to properly use a vehicle’s equipment, such as turning signals and hazard lights.
However, the actual cause of an auto accident might not be obvious. In some cases, it may have actually been caused by a dangerous road condition, as opposed to being caused by a driver. An example of this would be when a dangerous road was the cause of a car accident. If many accidents occur at the same spot on a road or highway, it is likely that the road itself is to blame.
Accidents caused by a dangerous road are generally due to:
- Failing to properly maintain the road;
- Failing to quickly make necessary highway repairs;
- Failure to repair or install safety measures, such as traffic signals or road signs;
- Highway construction zones;
- Objects located on or next to the road that obscures vision, such as poles, trees, or vegetation;
- Unsafe crosswalks;
- Insufficient warning signs, such as near a highway construction zone;
- Faded paint, such as a center dividing line or stop line;
- Poor lighting, such as over a busy highway;
- Poor water or sewage draining which causes pooling in the road; and
- Potholes or large cracks in the road.
Who Can Be Held Liable For a Dangerous Road Accident?
As previously mentioned, many auto accidents would be considered an issue of negligence. Negligence as a legal concept refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care, with that failure resulting in the damage or injury of another person. This concept is based on a person’s failure to take reasonable precautions, as opposed to a person’s actual actions. An example of this would be when a driver is speeding, and they cause an accident. The driver would likely be found negligent, due to the fact that they failed to exercise the same care as that of a driver who was obeying the speed limit.
A lawsuit associated with negligence in a car accident would most likely be based on the legal theory that the injured party can recover their losses. To reiterate, negligence does not involve intentional acts; it is uncommon that someone would intend to get into a car accident. In order to succeed in an auto accident lawsuit based on negligence, it must be shown that the other party involved in the car accident was at fault in some way.
Because of this, negligence claims frequently involve complex analysis in order to determine whether the defendant failed to follow their duty of safety. This concept will be further discussed later on.
Depending on the specifics of each accident, there are a number of different parties that can be held liable for dangerous road conditions, resulting in an accident and injury. A government or municipal department can be held liable, specifically for failing to maintain safe public road conditions.
An example of this would be when the department responsible for road and highway upkeep fails to repair dangerous conditions that they have been made aware of. Another common example would be when the responsible department fails to place proper warning or “danger” signs.
Other agencies may be responsible for maintaining safe roads in some areas. An example of this would be when a school or school district fails to maintain safe roads near a school, especially bus stops and cross walks. Construction companies can sometimes be held liable, when it can be shown that they are creating dangerous conditions on or near a road. They could also be held liable for failing to barricade a dangerous area, in order to restrict the area from public access.
How Is Negligence Proven?
To reiterate, negligence associated with car accidents and dangerous road accidents are based on the theory that one party owed a duty of care to another, and that duty was somehow breached.
There are four legal elements which need to be proven in order to make a successful negligence claim. In most jurisdictions, all four of these elements must be proven in order for a plaintiff to bring a lawsuit before a court. These four elements are:
- Duty of Care: A duty of care is owed to another person in any situation in which it is possible that the other person could foreseeably be harmed by your actions. All drivers owe all other drivers a duty of care to drive safely, as well as to obey all traffic laws at all times. In terms of dangerous road accidents, the party responsible for public road maintenance owes a duty of care to maintain the road for all who drive on it. The standard of care that is owed must be determined on a case by case basis; however, this is generally determined by what a reasonably prudent person would do in the same situation. The term “reasonable” is key when making determinations regarding duty of care;
- Breach of Duty: The plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant breached their duty to drive safely. Breaches occur when a person or entity does not act as reasonably or as prudent as any other person or entity would under the same circumstances. An example of this would be if the defendant failed to maintain a public road, which caused an accident. This could be considered to be a breach of duty of care;
- Causation: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s breach is what actually caused the accident, and therefore the plaintiff’s injuries. Most car accident lawsuits revolve around causation, as the defendant generally argues that they did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries. Another causation issue happens when it is shown that the plaintiff is actually responsible for some or all of their own injuries; and
- Damages: In order to receive monetary damages for their injuries, the plaintiff must show that their injuries are quantifiable. If the plaintiff cannot easily determine this amount in actual numbers, the awarded damages may be reduced or denied altogether.
What Are Some Remedies For Dangerous Road Accidents?
Generally speaking, remedies for negligence in a car accident include the negligent party paying the injured party monetary damages for their injury. This is referred to as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages can include any economic losses that result from the incident. Damages are intended to cover or reimburse costs, such as:
- Hospital bills;
- Medicine and medical equipment costs;
- Mechanic repair fees for property damage; and
- Lost wages.
Accidents caused by a dangerous road are usually remedied with a monetary damages award. In some cases, a class action lawsuit may be filed. This is especially true for cases in which several people were injured by the same dangerous road condition.
Do I Need an Attorney For Dangerous Road Accidents?
If you have experienced property damage or an injury resulting from a dangerous road accident, you should consult with an experienced and local car accident lawyer. State laws vary regarding personal injury law, negligence, and who is responsible for maintaining safe roads.
As such, working with an experienced and local personal injury attorney is recommended so that you receive the most relevant legal advice. An attorney can help you determine how you should proceed, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.