Can a Municipality Be Held Liable for a Hazardous Road Condition?

Sink Holes in Road - Hazardous road condition concept

Municipalities have a duty to provide reasonably safe roadways and protect those who use them from dangerous conditions. Typically, states, cities, towns, and counties are held to the same standard of care as private parties and can be held legally accountable in the event they were found to be negligent. If you were injured as a result of a hazardous roadway condition, you may be entitled to hold the responsible municipality liable by filing a personal injury lawsuit for your damages.

When Does a City Incur Liability for Unsafe Roads?

Municipality or city liability for unsafe roads is not automatic. Specifically, a municipality must have had notice of the hazard and a reasonable opportunity to remedy it. Notice can either be “actual” or “constructive.” In other words, the state, a city, town, or county is deemed to have notice of a dangerous condition if it was brought to the actual attention of an authority, agent, or employee. A municipality can also be held liable if the hazard existed for a sufficient amount of time and should have been discovered by exercising ordinary care.

Common Dangerous Roadway Conditions

There are a number of dangerous road conditions that can result in serious accidents leading to devastating injuries to a driver and their passengers. These types of hazards can occur on state highways, on streets in residential neighborhoods, in cities, and other public roads. Unsafe road accidents commonly arise in these locations in connection with negligent road design, poor maintenance, and failure to repair known defects.

A municipality may be held liable for a wide array of dangerous or unsafe road conditions, including the following:

  • Potholes and depressions
  • Debris
  • Defective roadway designs
  • Poorly placed stop lights or signs
  • Unmarked or faded road lanes
  • Improperly marked construction zones
  • Damaged manholes
  • Defective traffic control devices
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Insufficient snow removal

It is important to be aware that car accidents are not always caused by other drivers on the road. The above conditions can often lead to single vehicle crashes — these happen when a car strikes a pothole or swerves to avoid a hazard and collides with the guard rail, tree, or another object. Roadway hazards can also be a cause of multi-vehicle accidents if there is more than one car on the road. In the event you were injured in a car accident caused by a poorly maintained road or defective roadway condition, you may be entitled to pursue compensation.

Commencing a Lawsuit for Injuries Caused by Unsafe Road Accidents

An unsafe road accident can have a substantial impact on your daily life and livelihood. After an accident caused by a dangerous road condition, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Not only is seeing a medical provider essential to get the care you need for your injuries, but medical documentation is the foundation of every personal injury case. Your medical records will demonstrate the extent of your injuries.

By filing a personal injury action against a municipality, you may be entitled to recover both your economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are meant to compensate you for the monetary losses you incurred in connection with your accident, including lost wages, future lost earnings, medical expenses, and out-of-pocket costs. Noneconomic damages address the pain and suffering you experienced due to your accident-related injuries and other losses that are difficult to quantify.

It is vital to be aware that if you are considering bringing a legal action against a municipality for an unsafe road accident, you only have a limited amount of time to do so. There are special rules that govern filing a claim against a government entity, including the requirement that you must first file a claim with the municipality before filing a lawsuit. There are specific timelines which must be followed or else you claim may be barred.

Contact an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Attorney

Suing a municipality for an unsafe road accident can be complex, and it is critical to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney by your side to maximize your compensation. The Bellingham personal injury attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide reliable counsel to car accident victims throughout Washington State and work to obtain the best possible results in every case. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.

Categories: Auto Accidents