In 2017, there were 114,848 motor vehicle accidents in Maryland. While many of these resulted from negligent drivers, it’s likely that a number were caused by poorly-maintained roads. Poor road conditions play a role in a significant number of crashes all across the country. Despite the impact on people’s lives, state and local governments do not always correct road problems or take measure to warn drivers about possible hazards.
When cars wind up in an accident, it’s easy to place the blame on one of the drivers; however, it’s important to remember that it’s possible for wrecks to happen when all drivers are following traffic laws and operating their vehicles in a safe, responsible manner.
Signs of a Poorly-Maintained Road
Localities are supposed to make sure the roads in their jurisdiction are regularly inspected, maintained, and repaired. This does not always happen, which is why it’s all too common that our roads become hazardous for drivers. Weather conditions and heavy commercial vehicles can contribute to the breakdown of roads. Some of the most common factors that indicate poor road maintenance include:
- Missing or defective guardrails
- Inadequate lighting
- Poor drainage and flooding on roadways
- Overhanging trees that block signs or traffic signals
- Faded center lines or lack of reflective markers
- Debris or other hazards in the road
- Malfunctioning traffic signals
These and other maintenance issues can make roadways unreasonably dangerous. If you believe your accident resulted from issues that should have been fixed, it’s crucial to hire an attorney who can investigate your matter thoroughly to build a strong case.
Consequences of Poorly-Maintained Roads
Many accidents involving poorly maintained roads occur because the driver loses control of their vehicle while hitting a hazard or trying to avoid one. Loss of control can also happen when a car hits a pothole. If that pothole causes a tire to blowout, the driver may be unable to control what their car does. As a result, they could collide with another vehicle or a fixed object. Larger vehicles like SUVs and tractor-trailers are at risk for rolling over when losing control.
If the weather is poor and a driver starts to slide, the guardrails are supposed to keep them from going over an embankment. If the guardrails are old or rusted, they could give, and the vehicle could go over. What should have been an accident resulting in minor property damage could quickly turn into a life-or-death situation.
The injuries associated with a crash can be devastating. A hazard prompting a lane departure could result in a head-on collision. Accidents like this often result in fatalities. If the accident isn’t fatal, a person could suffer from severe brain, head, or spinal injuries that require a long recovery period and may result in permanent disability.
When victims are unable to work because of what they’ve been through, it can be impossible to pay for extensive medical care and it can become difficult to maintain living the way they previously did. Compensation from the negligent party can help.
Determining Liability for Accidents Related to Poor Road Maintenance
Like any other guilty party, negligent agencies that fail to maintain roads should be held liable for accidents and the resulting injuries. These cases, however, are often different and more complex than those involving a negligent driver.
Most roads are built and repaired by government agencies, which means sovereign immunity laws often prevent them from being sued. If, however, your accident occurred because you weren’t warned about the hazard, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Other unique circumstances may also apply.
When taking legal action against a government agency, it’s important to remember you often have significantly shorter deadlines to file your claim. Because of this, you’ll want to hire a law firm that is familiar with this type of claim, so can you rest assured you will receive justice for an accident that should have been prevented.
If you were injured on a private road, you may be able to seek compensation by filing suit against the property owner. To be successful, your attorney will need to prove the property owner was negligent in maintaining their road. To learn more about your legal options or for a free case evaluation, get in touch with us.