Are Poor Road Conditions Considered “Negligence” in a Crash Case?
It was bad enough to lose your car in an accident, but now your insurance company is telling you that all the costs are on you. Only your vehicle was involved in the crash, so there isn’t anyone else that could be responsible—unless your accident was caused by a preventable defect in the road itself. Many victims don’t know that it is possible to seek compensation for these cases; however, it can be difficult.
Establishing a Link Between Road Conditions and Negligence in a Car Accident Case
There are many different factors needed to establish negligence in a crash case caused by poor road conditions. In order to be successful, you must answer the following questions:
- Who is responsible? There are many people and entities who could be held responsible for unsafe roadways. Road maintenance may be performed by city, county, or state governments, but these bodies may split the duties or hire independent contractors. The first step in your case is to discover who is responsible, as some agencies are protected from being sued in car accident cases.
- Is it negligence? In order to win your case, you must be able to show that the person responsible acted unreasonably with regard to safety. In order for a party to be found negligent, you must be able to show that he or she should have known about the danger, but did not take timely or adequate steps to prevent accidents from happening. For example, if you struck a pothole and veered off the road, you will need to prove that the pothole had presented a danger for a reasonable amount of time and the government agency had not intervened to lessen the danger. The time between recognizing a danger and assuming liability can vary, so it is best to ask an attorney if your situation could count as negligence.
- Were you partly at fault? If you succeed in proving that an agency is negligent, the defending attorney may try to get you to assume some of the responsibility for the accident to avoid paying all of the costs. This is often called comparative negligence, and will often involve proving that your actions made it more likely that an accident would occur—such as driving through the problem area rather than taking a different route, driving too fast for the conditions, or talking on your cell phone. If the jury decides that you were partly to blame, the amount of damages you receive may be reduced.
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