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Who is Responsible If Poor Road Design Caused Your Accident?

Posted On: September 21, 2022

You face many hazards on the road, such as inattentive drivers, inclement weather and poor road conditions. But sometimes the greatest hazard is the road itself. We know that roads have to be maintained to be safe, but what if the road was dangerous from its inception? In other words, what if the road was — inadvertently — designed to cause traffic accidents rather than prevent them?

Poor road design encompasses many flaws that can easily cause a serious accident. Defects in road design include:

  • Crests and dips
  • Dangerous intersections
  • Hairpin turns
  • Hidden on-ramps
  • Inadequate or absent traffic signals
  • Inadequate or absent warning signs
  • Inadequate highway division
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Insufficient shoulder area
  • Obstructed views
  • Poor drainage
  • Poorly established construction zones
  • Short on-ramps
  • Soft shoulders
  • Steep embankment
  • Uneven surface to shoulder

Now, it’s well understood that when an auto defect, such as Toyota’s stuck accelerator pedal or GM’s faulty ignition switch, causes an accident, the auto manufacturer is strictly liable. But few motorists realize the same principle applies to roadways. You don’t have to take the road as you found it. If the road design or poor maintenance caused your accident, the entity that constructed the road is liable for damages.

Unfortunately, that often means suing a government agency, either the state or federal Department of Transportation. This involves the issue of sovereign immunity, a legal principle that says you can’t sue the government unless the government agrees to be sued. In road defect cases, this requires you to assemble overwhelming evidence of a faulty roadway to convince the government to hear your case before you can file suit. In effect, you must try the case twice.

Although there is a high bar to entry for road design defect cases, it is not insurmountable. An experienced auto accident attorney at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler PLLC can evaluate your case free of charge and provide the legal representation you require. To schedule a consultation, call today at 253-383-5388 or contact our office online.