Who Is Liable When A Car Accident Is Caused By Poor Road Conditions?
In a typical Florida car accident, it is fairly easy to determine liability, especially in rear-end collisions and right-of-way accidents. However, sometimes no one person is at fault, and instead, a pothole, lack of signage, or missing guardrails can be the cause of a serious accident or injury. In these instances, the victims of the accident may be unsure of who to file a car accident claim against, or even if they have the right to take legal action to recover damages at all. At The Pendas Law Firm, our Jacksonville car accident lawyers can evaluate the circumstances leading up to your accident to help you determine whether or not you have grounds to file a car accident claim against the government, road maintenance crew, or other responsible agency.
Suing an Agency or Road Crew For Damages
In order to sue an agency or road maintenance crew for damages, you must be able to prove that it was the poor road condition that caused your accident, and nothing else. For instance, you cannot claim that a pothole was the cause of your accident if the pothole was on the shoulder of the road and you accidentally veered into it because you were texting and driving. In order for you to have a valid lawsuit, the pothole must have been in the middle of your lane, too big to veer around, and big enough to cause serious damage.
Once you prove that the road condition was the sole cause, you must continue to prove that the agency or crew responsible for maintaining the road was negligent in their duty to provide safe and drivable roadways. If it was a hazard in the middle of the road that caused your accident, you must prove that the agency or crew failed to properly warn drivers of it.
Finally, once you have proved the above two factors to be true, you must determine whether or not the agency or crew responsible for your accident is even allowed to be sued. Unfortunately, many road construction crews are protected by Sovereign Immunity, which protects them and other government agencies from lawsuits brought against them.
Cities, counties, or states maintain most roadways; in many instances, a roadway is maintained by more than one entity, with each agency taking on differing maintenance responsibilities. For instance, the state may be responsible for filling potholes, the city may be responsible for plowing and salting roads, and the federal government may be responsible for larger construction undertakings, such as building a new overpass. Before you can file a car accident claim, you need to know which agency is responsible for your accident.
Once you have determined who is liable, you must then prove that the liable agency was negligent in their care of the roadways. This means proving that the responsible agency should have and could have repaired the roadways but chose not to. In some instances, you must prove that the agency that built the roadways did so in a careless and negligent manner so as to cause dangerous defects that could have been prevented.
Can the Agency Actually Be Sued?
As we mentioned above, most government agencies are protected from lawsuits thanks to sovereign immunity. However, although they are immune, most agencies will make exceptions and allow themselves to be sued under certain circumstances. Negligence in the care of a roadway is typically one exception to immunity that most agencies will make. However, they may stipulate that the negligence must be “gross,” meaning that it was very negligent. In other instances, they may only allow an individual to sue them if they have insurance to cover the type of lawsuit brought against them.
Consult a Jacksonville Car Accident Lawyer
If you were recently involved in a car accident due to poor road conditions, do not hesitate and contact the car accident lawyers at The Pendas Law Firm today. If you do have a chance of recovering damages from the government agency responsible, you have a very limited time to file a claim, as the statute of limitations to sue a government agency are typically much shorter than for any other type of claim. Call our Jacksonville personal injury team at 1-888-LPENDAS or schedule a consultation online to get an accurate assessment of your case.
The Pendas Law Firm also serves clients in the Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona, Bradenton, and West Palm Beach areas.