Bad roads cause accidents, but who do you sue for a road accident caused by a road defect? It all depends. You might claim against a government agency, for example, or a private contractor. Since proving fault can be difficult, you need a skilled car accident lawyer.
Common Types of Road Defects
Though negligent drivers cause most traffic accidents, poor road conditions cause accidents too. Following are some of the primary causes.
Poor Road Maintenance
Road defects and maintenance are closely related causes of accidents. A road defect such as crumbling asphalt can become a disastrously dangerous condition if not corrected by regular maintenance.
Bad road conditions cause accidents even when the responsible government agency regularly maintains the roads. A pothole, for example, can occur suddenly after a freeze and thaw. Governments have a “reasonable” amount of time to discover and repair a dangerous condition without incurring liability.
Poor Road Design
Many types of road design defects can imperil drivers. The failure to erect a sign reading “Bridge Freezes Before Roadway,” for example, can cause icy road accidents. Other types of design defects include sharp curves and steep grades.
Defective Roads: Who Is Responsible?
Accidents due to poor road conditions don’t “just happen.” Although you might not be able to file a claim against another motorist, an accident can generate a claim against a government. Sometimes private parties are also responsible for an accident arising from poor road conditions. Possible defendants include:
- The local, state, or federal government agency responsible for maintaining the road;
- A private company that contracted with the government to build, repair or maintain the road;
- A private landowner, if the accident occurred on a private road; or
- The manufacturer of a defective product, such as guardrails.
The fact that bad road conditions cause accidents can result in a chain of causation that leads directly to the government agency responsible for road conditions.
Filing a Claim Against the Government
Bad road accidents can generate large compensation claims. Although most governments can afford to pay, the fact that taxpayers ultimately foot the bill has generated special, burdensome rules that apply when you seek to file a claim against a government.
All governments enjoy “sovereign immunity” against money damages, which means that you must file a claim on the government’s terms. When it comes to filing a claim against the state of Indiana, you must:
- File a notice of tort claim for property damage and/or personal injury with the state attorney general’s office or the responsible government agency within 270 days of the accident.
- File a notice with the defendant and the appropriate division of the Indiana risk management commission within 180 days of the injury.
- Wait up to 90 days for the government defendant to decide on your claim. The law treats your claim as denied if the government does not approve it within a 90-day period, unless you reach a settlement during this time.
- Attempt to settle your claim with the government.
- File a lawsuit against the government. You can continue negotiating right up until the court issues a judgment.
Damages may not exceed $700,000, and you cannot win punitive damages. A road defect accident attorney can help you meet all applicable deadlines, determine the actual value of your claim and secure a generous payout as soon as possible.
Stracci Law Group is Ready to Fight for You
When the defendant is the government, it’s not a good idea to handle a car accident claim on your own, especially when poor road conditions caused the accident. The personal injury lawyers at Stracci Law Group have represented hundreds of car accident victims.
Don’t worry that you can’t afford us. You will owe us nothing until we win your case. If we win, your legal fee will amount to a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation. Contact us at 219-525-1000 for a free initial consultation, or simply contact us online. We serve clients in Merrillville [46410, 46411], Crown Point [46307, 46308], Hammond [46320, 46323], and everywhere else in Northwest Indiana.