In some cases, determining liability after an auto accident is a straightforward process. Drivers can make obvious mistakes, or mechanical failure might be to blame. While dealing with the aftermath of a car wreck is never simple, at least in these situations determining liability doesn’t create an additional complication.
When poor road conditions contribute to the accident, though, it confuses an already complex issue. You know that someone is liable for your property damage and injuries, but you also know that a simple exchange of insurance information won’t result in restitution. How, then, should you proceed in situations like this?
Roadway Issues That Commonly Cause Auto Accidents
While poor weather conditions can certainly contribute to auto accidents, often the blame lies with the municipality responsible for maintaining the roads. To ensure adequate driver safety, roads should be kept in good repair, with a smooth driving surface free of potholes and debris. Signs and stoplights should be posted in visible areas, unobstructed by foliage, and nearby sewer and drainage systems should be properly maintained to avoid flooding.
The road’s design, itself, can even create a hazard. Confusing intersections, such as a three-way junctions where only one stop sign exists, or roundabouts which lack proper clearance for merging, are an unnecessary danger to drivers. Highways lacking reflective paint can exacerbate existing weather conditions, as drivers may inadvertently drift between lanes and into other automobiles.
Any of these issues can cause even the most conscientious drivers to be involved in auto accidents.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident caused by poor road conditions, don’t count on the city or county to accept responsibility easily. In most cases, you will need the assistance of an attorney experienced in these kinds of incidents. Quick action is important here, because the statute of limitations for these cases can be as brief as six months.
You can support your own case even before you contact an attorney by keeping extensive records of every detail of the auto accident. If possible, take photos of the hazard at the time of the incident, and obtain contact information for any available witnesses. Be sure to obtain a medical evaluation, as well, so that a doctor can confirm that your injuries occurred as a direct result of a car wreck.
As you proceed with your case, your auto accident attorney will need to determine which government entity, if any, is responsible for maintaining the roads where the accident occurred. Some roads, such as those in industrial parks, are actually the responsibility of private companies.
Next, you and your attorney will need to prove that the responsible party was aware of the hazard. Laws in most states and municipalities protect government entities and even private property owners from liability for hazards they did not know about.
Be prepared for a long legal battle. Even if the law and facts are on your side, compensation in these cases is paid out by insurance companies, who will employ every delay tactic possible in an effort to protect their bottom line.
An experienced auto accident attorney, however, can facilitate this process, and help you receive the restitution you deserve.