Car crashes happen every day in Central California. Even if you are a safe, defensive driver, there is still a risk that you could end up in a serious collision. The vast majority of accidents are caused by driver error. A recent report published by Stanford Law School found that driver error was the primary cause of more than 9 in 10 accidents. Of course, that still leaves tens of thousands of crashes each year in California that are not caused by driver mistakes.
Many of these accidents happen because of highway road hazards. Broadly defined, a road hazard is a dangerous condition on the roadway that makes an accident more likely to occur. Road hazards exist for a wide range of different reasons—from oversights by road maintenance crews to poor weather conditions. Often, these dangerous conditions happen because of negligence. In this blog post, our Stockton car accident lawyer provides a guide to road hazard accident claims in California.
Many Different Types of Road Hazards Can Cause Car Accidents
Roadway hazards take a wide range of different forms. In some cases, road hazards exist only for a few minutes. In other cases, a road hazard is a problem with the highway itself. Some of the most common examples of highway road hazards that contribute to motor vehicle accidents in California include:
- Inclement weather;
- Potholes or cracks in the pavement;
- Dangerous or defective guardrails;
- Improper or inadequate highway safety signals;
- Lack of proper highway lighting;
- Damage to a bridge or an overpass;
- Improper maintenance by a road construction company; and
- Unsafe design of a road.
Road Hazards Cause Single-Car and Multi-Vehicle Collisions
Accidents caused by road hazards can be complicated. In some cases, road hazards accidents are single vehicle collisions. As an example, a driver may end up in a one-car crash because of an unrepaired, unaddressed pothole. Alternatively, unsafe design of a roadway could result in two or more vehicles ending up in a crash.
It should be noted that some road hazard accidents are also caused, in part, by negligent drivers. Driver error is by far the leading cause of crashes in Central California. A highway road hazard could compound driver error—making an accident far worse than it would have otherwise been. As California is a comparative negligence state, multiple parties may bear liability for the same crash.
Negligent Parties Can Be Held Liable for a Crash in California
California is a fault-based car accident state. In practice, this means that all parties that contributed to a crash can be held responsible for the resulting damages. You can file a road hazard car accident injury claim against any party whose unsafe, improper conduct contributed to your crash. Potential defendants in a road hazard accident claim in California include:
- Highway maintenance crews;
- Construction companies;
- Private property owners;
- Government agencies; and
- Third party drivers.
In most motor vehicle accident injury claims in California, victims have two years to file a formal claim. The state’s two years statute of limitation for other types of car accident cases also applies to road hazard claims. However, there is an important caveat. You generally have less time to initiate the personal injury claims process if you are filing a lawsuit against a government entity.
There are Specialized Procedures for a Claim Against the Government
The government has a responsibility to develop and maintain public roads. For the most part, roads and highways are maintained at the state and local level. State and local state highway authorities are responsible for overseeing tens of thousands of miles of public road. When government agencies cause an accident through careless, reckless, or negligent actions, they should be held liable for the resulting damages. While you have a right to file a car accident injury claim against the government, there are some specialized rules and procedures that you need to understand.
As described by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), you have a right to file a claim directly with state authorities if the value of your claim is $10,000 or less. This is done by completing and submitting form LD-0274, Claim Against Department of Transportation for Amounts $10,000 or Less. To file a road hazard accident claim worth more than $10,000, you must go through the official Government Claims Program. You may or may not need to file a lawsuit. An experienced Stockton, CA car accident lawyer will help you maximize your financial recovery.
Road Hazard Accident Claims Require a Thorough Investigation
While all serious car crashes require an immediate investigation, a proactive approach is especially important in road hazard cases. These are highly complex personal injury claims. If you were hurt in a crash that was caused, at least in part, by some form of highway road hazard, it is imperative that you get professional help. At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton car accident lawyers are standing by, ready to conduct a thorough, detail-focused investigation of your crash. We will gather and secure all of the evidence and information that you need to prove fault and recover compensation. You may be eligible to recover money damages for:
- Vehicle repairs or replacement;
- Emergency room treatment;
- Medical bills and related costs;
- Loss of current and future wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Permanent scarring or physical impairment; and
- Wrongful death of a close relative.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Stockton, CA Auto Accident Attorneys
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton car accident lawyers have the skills and experience to handle road hazard accident claims. Our local attorneys get big time results—with more than $25 million recovered for injured victims and their families. If you were injured in a crash caused by a road hazard, we are more than ready to protect your rights. Call us at 209-267-4589 or connect with us directly online for a free review of your case. We represent injured victims in Stockton, San Joaquin County, and throughout the wider region in California’s Central Valley.