How Is Responsibility for an Accident Caused by Road Damage Determined?

For many drivers, there are only two seasons: construction season and pothole season. While that is a bit of an exaggeration, it can often feel like the only time the roads aren’t filled with potholes is when they are actively being repaired.

The plethora of potholes on some roads can make them very unpleasant to drive on. Even worse, cars can only handle so much road damage before something bad happens — like a tire blowing or shocks giving out. Eventually, if you drive over damaged roads long enough, your car is likely to be damaged.

The worst-case scenario is one where road damage is directly or indirectly responsible for a car accident. When that happens, you may be wondering exactly who is responsible for your crash. Like many other types of accidents, the answer depends on the unique circumstances surrounding the collision.

The Government Was Aware of the Damage and Took No Action

If the government is aware that road damage exists, it is duty-bound to investigate the severity of the road damage and take appropriate corrective actions to protect the safety of drivers. For that reason, it is also the best scenario to encounter when being in a crash caused by road damage.

While repair resources may be limited, the government should at least place warning signs if there is unrepaired damage. And if that damage is extremely dangerous to drivers, the government may even need to close the road until repairs can be performed.

The Government Failed to Perform Timely Inspections

It isn’t the job of the average citizen to inform the government that roads are in disrepair. Instead, it is the responsibility of the government to regularly inspect roads to ensure that they haven’t fallen in disrepair over time. The government can’t claim ignorance of road damage if it made no efforts to confirm the roads were safe.

Proving that the government was irresponsible is challenging. Typically, your lawyer will have to subpoena government records and look for violations of state-imposed timelines for inspections.

Corrective Action Was Planned but Not Yet Completed

Like the example above, planned but not yet completed corrective action signals that the government is responsible for your crash. The main difference is that it may have reduced liability. The government will argue that it wasn’t irresponsible — just slow. That doesn’t absolve it of responsibility, but it will likely prevent you from receiving non-economic compensation.

Warning Signs Were Present

Sometimes the government can’t immediately correct road damage but can place highly visible warning signs around the danger. If you are impacted by road damage that you were warned about, then you are responsible for placing yourself in danger. And since you acted recklessly, you are also responsible for harm to the other car and driver.

There Was No Way for Anyone to Be Aware

The final situation is one where no one is aware of road damage and where there is no reasonable way for anyone to be aware.

This could happen, for example, if a tree falls at night during a windstorm. If you come upon that downed tree during the same night, there would have been no time for the damage to be reported. And even if you were driving safely under normal road conditions, the damage could take you by surprise and cause you to get into an accident.

When this happens, no one is responsible. This type of collision is rare enough that you should consider consulting an attorney if you think you’ve experienced it.

Car Accident Attorneys in Los Angeles

If you are involved in a car accident caused by road damage in Los Angeles, CA, contact the Saeedian Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.