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Negligent motorists aren’t the only cause of road accidents. Lack of maintenance and funding most often leads to deteriorated infrastructure. For example, potholes can catch any driver off-guard, making them lose control of their vehicle and resulting in a fatal road accident.

The California Department of Transportation manages over 50,000 miles of state highways and freeways in California (Caltrans). It is responsible for designing, building, and maintaining the state’s highway system. So, who is to blame for the injuries or damages arising from bad road conditions resulting in accidents?

What Constitutes Poor Road Conditions in California?

Poor road conditions include shoulder drop-off, uneven road surfaces, cracked asphalt, exposed rebar, snow and ice, root intrusion, poor signage, worn-off lane markings, and tree overgrowth. If there’s poor signage or worn-off road markings, drivers may find it challenging to tell which lane they should be traveling in. Unreasonably narrow streets can make it difficult for a vehicle to navigate safely without colliding with other motorists.

Roadways should remain clear of overgrowth or obstructions that block a driver’s view. Potholes are the bane of all motorists because they can easily pop a tire or cause severe undercarriage damage, amounting to costly repair bills. Accidents caused by poor road conditions can bring about life-threatening injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injuries, facial trauma, and internal bleeding.

Even after hitting a small pothole at low speed, a motorist or the passengers may suffer whiplash, neck pain, tingling extremities, and lack of mobility due to neck or spine injuries. Some injuries require ambulance transportation to the emergency room, surgery, extended hospital stays, and expensive lifetime medical care. If poor road conditions led to your accident, you might have difficulty proving liability.

Who Is Liable for Accidents Caused by Poor Road Conditions in California?

The California Department of Transportation manages a majority of the state’s highways and freeways. Bringing a lawsuit against a government entity can be an uphill battle because not all accidents attributable to bad road conditions result in liability. Consult an expert car accident lawyer to determine your legal options and whether you have valid claims for damages.

A seasoned attorney can help, since the process and the timeline for filing a claim against a government body like Caltrans differ from a typical civil lawsuit. To win a case against a government agency or privately contracted entity, your lawyer must prove they were lax in their road maintenance duties. Consequently, their oversight caused your accident.

It’s worth mentioning that most states and federal government agencies have immunity from lawsuits and can’t be sued without permission. Additionally, each US state has specific rules that cover claims against any state or local government entity for damage compensation. Caltrans, for example, has a distinct process for filing a claim, which depends on the number of damages you seek. You may file a claim with the Department of Transportation if the amount of your claim is $10,000 or less. Damages over $10,000 should be filed with the Sacramento Government Claims Program. A Kash Legal attorney can help you understand the process, including your legal options.

Establishing Negligence in Poor Road Maintenance or Design

Unfortunately, California highways are among the worst in the US. Due to their deteriorating condition, motorists in the state’s cities spend too much on vehicle repair and maintenance. Badly-designed or poorly-maintained roads play a significant role in vehicle accidents. Substandard road conditions can get worse due to bad weather, like heavy rain and snow, causing the roadways to be dangerously slippery, especially if left untreated.

Highway maintenance crews must properly maintain heavily-traveled interstates and state freeways, as damage and wear are expected with overuse. While some infrastructure damage can be corrected or minimized, routine maintenance can ensure the safety of drivers and other road users. Whether your car accident was caused by uneven pavement, damaged asphalt, poorly marked roads, broken guardrails, lack of traffic signals, or nighttime lighting, it must be investigated.

Proving that motorway deterioration led to your accident allows you to file a lawsuit against the government agency responsible for that road maintenance. The city might be responsible for de-icing roadways, while a state may be in charge of filling potholes. An attorney can help determine which government agency to approach. 

Proving Your California Poor Road Condition Claim

If your accident resulted from poor road conditions, ensure you note the location of the hazardous condition, its physical characteristics, the name of the road, and eyewitness reports, if any. For a valid compensation claim, identify the government agency or privately contracted entity that owed you a duty to keep the road safe.

You must then establish that the agency knew there was an issue with the road and failed to take the necessary steps, culminating in the crash. Next, bring a negligence claim against the responsible party by issuing a written notice to the Department of Financial Services. The notification must be filed within a statute of limitations, which ranges from six months to two years for accidents brought about by poor road conditions.

Contact an Experienced California Road Accident Lawyer today

If you are involved in an accident caused by poor or defective road conditions, consider having a qualified professional represent you. Any personal injury claims require thorough investigation to establish liability, and a dedicated lawyer from Kash Legal can help you decide if you have a valid claim.

Based on the evidence collected, you may be eligible for compensation to help pay for medical expenses, property damage, loss of wages, and more. Leverage our combined years of experience in personal injury suits to help you bring the liable party to justice. Call our team of personal injury lawyers at (888) 527-4128 or fill out our contact form to discuss your case.

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