Road conditions are a vital factor to ensure the safety and efficiency of traffic and transportation. However, not all roads are well-maintained and properly designed, and some may have defects or hazards that can cause or contribute to accidents, injuries, or damage.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 43% of the public roadways in the United States are in poor or mediocre condition, and 7% of the bridges are structurally deficient. In California, 50% of the public roadways are in poor or mediocre condition, and 6% of the bridges are not structurally sound.
You may be entitled to compensation if you or a loved one were involved in an accident caused by defective road conditions. You can claim your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
However, pursuing a claim for accidents caused by defective road conditions can be complex and challenging, as many factors and parties are involved. These include the road owner, contractor, designer, government agency, and insurance company.
So accordingly, our experienced San Diego car attorneys will explain here what you need to know about accidents caused by defective road conditions and how HHJ Trial Attorneys can help you with your case.
Table of Contents
What Are the Common Types of Defective Road Conditions?
Defective road conditions are any conditions or factors that make the road unsafe or unsuitable for driving, such as:
- Potholes: These holes or depressions in the road surface are caused by wear and tear, weather, or erosion. Potholes can cause damage to the tires, wheels, suspension, or alignment of the vehicle or cause the driver to lose control while swerving to avoid them.
- Cracks: Fissures or “splits” in the road surface caused by stress, pressure, or temperature. Cracks can reduce the traction, stability, and smoothness of the road or cause it to collapse or cave in.
- Debris: These include all objects or materials on the road, such as rocks, branches, trash, fallen goods or animals. Debris can obstruct the driver’s vision, movement, or path and cause damage or puncture to the vehicle.
- Construction zones: Areas where the road is under construction, repaired or improved, such as adding lanes, installing signs, or repaving the surface. Construction zones can create confusion, congestion, or detours for the driver or expose road users to hazards, such as uneven pavement, loose gravel, or heavy machinery.
Design flaws are another common road defect, including errors or defects in the road’s planning, engineering, or layout—for example, inadequate materials, specifications, or standards. Design flaws can affect the road’s functionality, durability, and suitability or create obstacles, such as poor drainage, inadequate lighting, or sharp curves.
What Are the Common Causes and Consequences of Accidents Caused by Defective Road Conditions?
Various factors exist, such as:
- Negligence is the failure to act with the reasonable care and skill that a prudent and competent person would exercise in similar circumstances. The road owner, contractor, designer, government agency or driver who fails to inspect, maintain, repair, or improve the road is negligent.
- Liability is the legal responsibility or obligation for the harm or damage caused by one’s actions or inactions. Liability can be imposed on the road owner, contractor, designer, government agency or driver, who may be held accountable or answerable for the accident caused by the defective road condition.
- Damages are the losses, injuries, or harms one suffers or will suffer due to the accident caused by the defective road condition. Damages include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, property damage, or wrongful death.
Accidents caused by defective road conditions can have serious and catastrophic consequences, such as:
- Vehicle damage: Includes all damages due to the accident resulting from the defective road condition. It can include repair, replacement, and depreciation expenses for the vehicle owner or driver to restore or replace their vehicle after the accident.
- Personal injury: The injury that the vehicle occupant or pedestrian suffers or will suffer due to an accident on a defective road. It includes physical injuries, such as fractures, sprains, lacerations or burns. Of course, there are also emotional injuries, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD, to be compensated for. Personal injury can also affect the health, well-being, and quality of life of the accident victim and their family. Remember, our personal injury lawyers are here to help.
Loss of life is a tragic consequence of accidents caused by poor road conditions, which may be grounds for a wrongful death case.
How Can You Prove Your Claim for Accidents Caused by Defective Road Conditions?
To prove your claim, you must prove that the road owner, contractor, designer, government agency, or another party was responsible for causing or contributing to the accident if they failed to exercise the reasonable care and skill that a prudent and competent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.
To prove your claim for accidents caused by defective road conditions, you need to establish the following elements:
#1 – Duty
You need to show that the responsible party/ies owe you a duty of care, which is the obligation to act safely and reasonably to avoid or minimize the risk of harm to you or others.
Duties include :
- The road owner must inspect, maintain, and repair the road.
- The road contractor must follow the specifications and standards of the road project.
- The road designer is expected to plan, engineer, and adequately lay the road.
- The government agency has to regulate, oversee, and enforce road laws and regulations. The driver must obey the traffic rules and drive safely.
#2 – Breach
You need to prove that the responsible party or parties breached their duty of care.
The road owner failed to fix a pothole, the contractor used substandard materials, the designer made a design flaw, and the government agency ignored a complaint. At the same time, the driver breached their duty of care by speeding or texting.
#3 – Causation
Finally, you also need to show that the responsible party/ies caused the accident by their breach of duty and the resulting harm to you or others.
For example, the road owner can cause an accident by not repairing a pothole. A contractor can cause a crack through poor methods, while the designer‘s sharp curve is unsafe. The government agency, in failing to warn of a construction zone, and the driver, by hitting or avoiding the defect or hazard, caused the accident.
#4 – Damages
You must prove that the accident resulted in damages to you, which are the losses, injuries, or harms that you or others suffered or will suffer due to the accident.
For example, the accident caused damage to you or others, such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, property damage, or wrongful death.
How Can You Recover Compensation for Accidents Caused by Defective Road Conditions?
In California, you need to determine the value and extent of your damages and the sources and limits of your recovery.
To recover compensation for accidents caused by defective road conditions, you need to consider the following factors:
#1 – The Type and Severity of Injuries and Damages
This aspect will affect the amount and duration of your compensation. Generally, the more severe and permanent your injuries and damages are, the more compensation you can claim and recover.
For example, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting in cognitive impairment, you can claim and recover more compensation than for a concussion.
#2 – The Degree of Fault and Negligence
Your fault and negligence will affect the percentage and reduction of your compensation. Generally, the more fault and negligence you share in the accident’s cause, the less compensation you can claim and recover.
For example, if you were 25% at fault for the accident, you can only claim and recover 75% of your compensation.
#3 – Solvency & Liability
The solvency and liability of all responsible party/ies will affect the source and limit of your recovery. Generally, the more solvent and liable the parties are, the more recovery you can expect.
For example, if the road owner, contractor, designer, government agency or another party has insurance, assets, or income, you can recover some or all of your compensation.
Fight for the Compensation You Deserve With Experienced Help From HHJ
We’ve recovered millions for accident victims like you and pride ourselves in our personalized approach to fighting for our clients’ rights and interests.
Contact our experienced attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.