Accidents due to poor road conditions can lead to both physical injuries and emotional challenges.
This extensive guide was compiled by our experienced and compassionate attorneys at Spar & Bernstein to help you deal with the aftermath of a car accident.
We will share the types of poor road conditions that cause accidents, the parties you can hold liable for your injuries and the types of compensation you can pursue after an accident.
What Poor Road Conditions Cause Accidents?
The most common poor road conditions that increase the risk of collisions include:
Road damage such as uneven surfaces, potholes and cracks can impact vehicle stability and control.
For example, potholes can lead to abrupt jolts, while uneven surfaces can result in tire wear, impacting traction and motor vehicle handling.
Insufficient or non-existent lighting on roads can reduce visibility — especially during the night or in poor weather conditions.
Compromised visibility increases the risk of accidents, as drivers may struggle to see obstacles, pedestrians or other vehicles.
Broken Traffic Lights
Malfunctioning or non-functional traffic lights can contribute to collisions due to confusion and chaos at intersections, caused by lack of clarity regarding the right-of-way.
Missing Or Damaged Signs
Road signs play a crucial role in conveying important information to drivers, such as speed limits, construction zones, warnings and traffic flow.
Missing or damaged signs can confuse drivers or cause them to misinterpret road conditions, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Poorly Designed Roads
Flawed road design, including insufficient merging lanes and improperly aligned intersections, can create hazardous conditions.
Poorly designed roads can also lead to navigation difficulties, unexpected traffic patterns and increased risk of hydroplaning. In turn, these issues increase the risk of accidents — especially in high-traffic areas.
Guardrails help prevent vehicles from leaving the road or colliding with obstacles, such as trees, pedestrians or other vehicles.
The absence of guardrails along the road poses a significant risk — particularly on curves, elevated roads and bridges.
Faded Paint Markings
Road markings, which include lane dividers, crosswalks and directional arrows, provide visual guidance for drivers.
Faded paint markings due to weathering or inadequate maintenance can confuse drivers, lead to lane drift and increase the risk of accidents.
Debris in the Road
Rocks, branches or litter on the road can compromise the functioning of vehicle tires, causing the vehicle to swerve or lose control — especially at high speeds.
Winter Driving Conditions
Improperly treated roads during winter can lead to dangerous driving conditions.
Failure to plow snow or apply salt to icy roads can reduce traction on slippery surfaces and cause serious accidents.
Who Is Liable For Accidents Due To Poor Road Conditions?
Understanding who may be held liable for an accident due to bad roads is not just a legal matter — if you were injured in a car accident, it’s an important step in seeking justice for the injuries you suffered and the challenges you faced during your recovery.
The parties you may be able to hold liable include:
- Government agencies: If a government agency failed to maintain or repair the road, they may be held liable for your accident. For example, if the city or county departments of public works or public services did not take measures to repair potholes or faded road markings, they could be held liable. Or, if highway patrol or state police failed to manage road conditions during adverse weather, you could have a case against them.
- Contractors and construction companies: If poor road conditions were a result of a recent construction or maintenance work, a contractor or construction company may be held liable for your accident. For example, if a contractor failed to address hazards created during construction, placed inadequate signage or applied improper road markings, they could be held liable.
- Private property owners: If private property conditions contributed to creating road hazards, a private property owner may be held liable for your accident. For example, if poor drainage from a private property caused water accumulation on the road and that led to the accident, the property owner could be held liable.
- Manufacturers and suppliers: If the accident was caused by a defective road-related product, such as faulty traffic lights or road signs, manufacturers or suppliers of these products may be held liable. This can include faults related to design, manufacturing or installation of equipment.
Can You Sue The City For Bad Roads?
Yes, in certain situations you may have the right to sue a city or municipal government for an accident caused by bad roads.
The process of suing a city differs compared to suing individuals or companies. Receiving compensation from the city in which your accident took place depends on several factors, including:
- Sovereign immunity: In some jurisdictions, governments and cities have sovereign immunity, which protects them from being sued without their consent. Under certain circumstances, sovereign immunity may be waived.
- Notice requirements: Before filing a lawsuit, you are typically required to notify the city of your intention to sue them, by sending a Notice of Claim. The Notice of Claim must be sent within a certain timeframe, detailing the nature of the claim and giving the government an opportunity to respond.
- Negligence claims: To succeed in a bad road lawsuit against the city, you typically need to prove that the city demonstrated negligence. This means you must provide evidence that the city failed to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the roads and this failure led to an accident in which you sustained injuries.
Due to the complexity of the process, it’s important to hire a motor vehicle accident lawyer who specializes in personal injury law and has a proven track record with cases involving government entities.
Partnering with victims of motor vehicle accidents for over five decades, our team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein provides guidance in New York and New Jersey.
If you were involved in a car accident, we will look into the details of your case and help you determine who is liable.
What Type Of Compensation Can You Claim After An Accident Due To Bad Roads?
If you suffered injuries in an accident due to bad road conditions, you may have the right to seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses: You can seek compensation for medical costs incurred due to the injuries you sustained in the accident. These costs can include hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation and ongoing medical care.
- Lost wages: If your injuries and treatment after the accident caused you to miss workdays, you can pursue compensation for the income and benefits you would have earned during that time.
- Pain and suffering: You may be eligible to seek compensation for the physical and emotional distress you experienced as a result of the accident, including pain, anxiety and stress.
- Loss of consortium: If your injuries after the accident negatively affected your relationship with your spouse or family member, you may be eligible for compensation for the loss of companionship and support.
- Disability and impairment: If the accident led to long-term or permanent disabilities, you can seek compensation for the impact your injuries had on your quality of life and earning potential.
- Cost of adaptive equipment: If your injuries led to disabilities that required special equipment or modifications to your living environment, you may be eligible to seek compensation for home alterations or adaptive technologies.
- Diminished earning capacity: If your injuries resulted in a reduced ability to earn income in the future, you may have the right to seek compensation for diminished earning capacity.
- Wrongful death: If you lost a loved one in an accident due to bad road conditions, you can seek compensation for funeral and burial expenses, lost financial support, emotional distress and loss of consortium.
Were You Injured In An Accident Due To Bad Roads? Contact Spar & Bernstein
With a track record of success stories in personal injury cases, including notable victories against government agencies, our personal injury lawyers at Spar & Bernstein provide the support and understanding you need after a motor vehicle accident.
If your accident was caused by bad road conditions and you sustained injuries, our dedicated attorneys will strive to secure the compensation you deserve.
Whether you have a case against the city or other third parties, our attorneys will:
- Review your accident details
- Explain how fault in car accidents is determined
- Talk to witnesses and gather evidence
- Partner with experts to define the worth of your case
- Complete and file your claim within the legal deadlines
- Represent you before agencies and insurance companies
Trust our tenacious team at Spar & Bernstein with your case and we will guide you through the complexities of seeking justice for your injuries.
Bradford H. Bernstein
This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.View Brad's Bio