As drivers, we know to pay attention to the roadway for ever-changing hazards and conditions. Road dangers exist everywhere—and if they persist for too long, a government agency (or authority) and others may face liability for injuries and accidents.
What Are Typical Road Defects?
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration identifies many common road defects:
- Poor, faulty, or defective construction
- Confusing, damaged, poorly placed, or missing warning signals or signs
- Broken or missing guardrails
- Sudden shoulder drop-offs
- Dangerous road debris
- Malfunctioning traffic signals
- Defective construction materials
- Roads not salted or plowed in winter weather
- Blind curves and poorly banked roads
- Improperly graded curves and uneven shoulders
- Vision or landscaping obstructions
- Inadequate nighttime lighting or overly bright lights
- Lack of appropriate roadway markings
- Wrong road materials
- Low bridges or incorrect overhead bridge markings
These dangerous conditions can even throw cautious drivers off guard.
The state, county, or city may shoulder responsibility for maintaining a road. They may be culpable parties, along with contractors, engineers, and maintenance companies.
Suing the Government: Where to Begin?
If you hurt in an accident and believe a roadway defect caused the crash, hire an attorney. An attorney can:
- Determine and prove whether the state, county, township, or other party (like a contractor) is at fault
- Assess whether the road defect is from design, construction, or maintenance
- Follow all technical procedures, such as timely sending required notices of claim (before filing suit)
- Coordinate among police, accident investigators, and insurance representatives
- Filing suit before the statute of limitations (legal deadline) expires
The State Is Not King
You may have heard the term “sovereign immunity.” Under old English common law (which are the roots of our U.S. legal system), you could not sue the king—that is, the sovereign, or government, was immune from suit. That carried over to the United States, but with many exceptions. Fortunately for victims, Virginia has a Tort Claims Act, a law that allows civil suits against the Commonwealth with some limitations:
- A Virginia employee must have acted negligently
- Damages are capped at $100,000 for ordinary negligence (with exceptions for gross negligence or intentional misconduct)
With the confusion, chaos, and emotional turmoil after a car crash, most drivers and passengers do not realize that a road defect caused the accident. The road defect often is not identified until later, after an accident investigation. Road defects may actually have caused accidents that may at first glance seem to result from a driver’s mistake.
Hurt? In a Car Accident? Call an Experienced Richmond, Virginia, Personal Injury Attorney Today for Help
If you were hurt or in an accident, don’t delay. Virginia law may entitle you to compensation for your injuries. Trust the experienced, caring professionals at Emroch & Kilduff. Call us right away at (804) 358-1568 or contact us confidentially online. Our legal team will use our decades of expertise to answer your questions, evaluate your circumstances, and discuss your options.