CALIFORNIA CAR ACCIDENTS: Can the road, street or highway itself be at fault?

This is the question for today – can the roadway itself be at fault? In other words, let’s say a driver is involved in a single car accident, or even a multi-vehicle accident, and the roadway itself is at fault – can that driver bring suit against California, the town or county the accident occurred in or even the designer of the roadway? The answer to this depends on a number of factors.

WHAT IS A DEFECTIVE ROAD?
In California, a defective roadway can mean many things and may include such complicated issues like inappropriate signage, incorrect speed limits based on poor analysis or road design that was manufactured incorrectly or that was the result of faulty plans or a lacking study.

Some examples of defective roadways would be merge lanes that don’t give the driver enough distance to merge, curves that are too sharp for necessary speed limits, lane width that’s too narrow, unfixed potholes, dangerous unmarked trenches and a whole host of other situations.

DEFECTIVE ROADWAYS INVOLVE ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING:
— Inadequate Road Maintenance/Repair: This may involve neglected potholes, obstructions that were not cleared, flooding, erosion, heat damage or any natural or man-made intrusion that was not properly addressed.

— Broken Lights/Traffic Signals: This is pretty self-explanatory: sometimes, broken, incorrectly synced or programmed lights/signals malfunction, causing accidents. This may also include posted signs (Stop, Yield, Curve, etc.) which are damaged, illegible, obstructed or even missing.

— Failure To Alert Drivers: This includes any instance where a known hazard exists and the parties responsible for the safety of the road fail to alert drivers to this hazard – fallen trees, work crews, debris, erosion, flooding, power lines and any other local hazard(s).

— Absent Safety Protocols Or Equipment: Some roads, highways, streets in California are sorely in need of safety equipment like safety railings, guardrails, barriers and the like. The absence of these may be responsible for more accidents than we know.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DEFECTIVE ROADS?
Here in California, our roads, street and highways are tended to by the California Department of Transportation (Cal Trans), or by the specific local government. For instance, the parking lot of your local school will probably be maintained by your town/city, yet the local on/off-ramp to a highway in your same town may be maintained by Cal Trans. Were you or a loved one to to get into an accident caused by a defective roadway, your personal injury lawyer would be able to determine which party was responsible for the defect.

Of course, if you have any questions about an accident that you think was negligent, please give us a call for a complimentary, 100% confidential intake call with one of our legal professionals.