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Roughly one-third of all traffic fatalities each year involve poor road conditions. In these unfortunate situations, something like a pothole or massive crack in the road causes a driver to end up getting into a dangerous wreck. These sorts of accidents can have legal implications.
There are many different types of unsafe road conditions that cause accidents. In some cases, the road is damaged by a disaster or general wear and tear. In other situations, the road may be under construction or might have been poorly designed.
The most common type of issue is potholes and road ruts. These indentions filled with loose asphalt can easily cause your car to move in unexpected or uncontrollable ways. Another big problem is missing or damaged road safety tools. Things like road paint, road lights, guardrails, and barriers are supposed to keep drivers in the right spot, and if they’re missing, it’s easy to drive on unsafe surfaces or get in the way of other vehicles.
Though potholes and missing safety markers are the most common ways neglected roads lead to accidents, the possibilities are almost endless. Road materials that change suddenly can cause accidents when concrete freezes before asphalt does. A sharp curve can make it easy for a car to flip when turning a corner, or a confusing sign can distract a driver. If the road is a construction zone, loose equipment on the road or unexpectedly shifted lanes might cause a crash. Just about anything besides an even, smoothly paved, straight surface with clear markers can contribute to an accident.
After a car accident that wasn’t your fault, your first instinct is probably to find someone to hold accountable. However, this can be a little tricky when the accident didn’t involve a random car slamming into your vehicle. To see if someone is responsible for an accident on a faulty road, you will need to start by looking at the road’s owner.
If the road is privately owned, identifying the negligent party is fairly straightforward. People who create private roads have a responsibility to keep them in working condition, so you could file a personal injury claim against the road’s owner. However, most roads are publicly owned by a local, state, or federal government entity. These cases can be tricky because the government is usually immune to any liability in personal injuries.
However, there are some exceptions to the rule. The government is still responsible for your injuries if their employees or contracted agencies were negligent. This essentially means that you can sue the government as long as the poor road conditions were caused by government workers failing to behave responsibly and keep the public safe.
Most poor road conditions are due to negligence. Typically, the only thing that wouldn’t be negligence is something like a natural disaster causing road damage that hasn’t been fixed yet. Here are some common examples of poor road conditions that you could sue the government for:
When someone else contributes to your accident, you always have the option of a personal injury lawsuit. Typically, if poor road conditions cause your accident, you will sue the overseeing government organization and claim that they failed in their duty to keep the road safe.
As long as you work with an attorney, the lawsuit process is fairly simple. Your lawyer can assist you with collecting evidence and will handle legal details like filing paperwork and speaking on your behalf in court. The typical motor vehicle accident lawsuit of this nature starts with formally filing a claim against the owner of the road. You’ll submit some basic evidence to the court and begin formally negotiating with the government. In many cases, they will offer a settlement to close the case before it reaches court. If you cannot negotiate a satisfactory settlement, you will eventually go to court and present all your evidence to a jury. They will then decide whether the other party was at fault and, if so, determine the amount of compensation that you are owed.
A pothole lawsuit provides you with a lot of opportunities for compensation. If your motor vehicle accident lawyer is able to prove a negligent party was at fault, you can ask for compensation for one or more of these reasons:
One of the things that makes these sorts of car crash lawsuits so hard to handle is the fact that multiple factors can contribute to an accident. For example, someone driving at or under the speed limit might not spin out after hitting a pothole, but someone who was speeding could get in a very bad accident after hitting a pothole.
Even if you were driving a little negligently, you might still be able to sue the other responsible parties. New Jersey uses a concept called “comparative negligence” to determine how much money you can get in a lawsuit. Essentially, the court hears both sides of the argument and then assigns a certain percentage of fault to each party. For example, they might decide that the accident was 75% caused by a rut in the road and 25% because you were distracted while driving.
The court then uses this percentage to adjust the total amount of compensation. If you were 50% or less at fault, you can still get some money. However, it will be reduced by the percentage you were at fault. So if you were awarded $10,000 but were 25% at fault, you’d only walk away with $7,500. Ultimately, this law is very helpful because it ensures that you can still hold the owner of the faulty road liable even if your actions slightly contributed to causing the accident.
Ultimately, it might be a good idea to consult with a New Jersey motor vehicle accident lawyer. The right attorney can examine your situation and help you figure out if poor roadway conditions led to your accident. If you believe that the negligence of another party was the cause, you may be able to sue for compensation. To learn more about your options, turn to RAM Law. Our team of experienced lawyers has spent years assisting New Brunswick and Somerville residents with the aftermath of vehicle accidents. For a free case review, call 732-394-1549 or fill out our contact form.
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