When a serious collision occurs between motor vehicles, one or both of the drivers usually causes the collision. Although driver negligence constitutes the leading cause of accidents involving cars, trucks and SUVs, sometimes dangerous streets and highways play a substantial role in San Diego auto collision.
Special legal requirements in hazardous road lawsuits
A public entity like the County of San Diego or State of California may be liable for a roadway that is defective in its design or that is improperly maintained. However, the rules for suing public entities differ because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This legal concept essentially insulates government entities and officials from liability when their negligence causes injury.
California, like many states, has waived sovereign immunity by enacting the California Tort Claims Act. Before a motor vehicle injury victim can initiate a civil lawsuit against a public entity for a crash caused by a dangerous road, formal notice must be provided to the public entity. The notice must be provided within six months of the car accident to preserve one’s remedies.
Dangerous roads may be caused by unsafe design, poor construction, lack of maintenance or failure to adapt to changed conditions. When our clients are injured in San Diego auto collisions, we investigate the accident scene and frequently utilize accident reconstruction experts to determine if a hazardous roadway contributed to the car accident. Public entities have extensive resources to fight in litigation and sufficient resources to satisfy a judgment.
Common factors that promote collisions on unsafe roads
A wide range of unsafe road conditions may result from the design, construction or maintenance of a street or highway including:
- Lack of guardrails or barriers along road drop-offs
- Poor placement of utility poles
- Improper or missing signage warning of road hazards like dangerous curves
- Failure to install median divider
- Not repairing potholes
- Failing to repair malfunctioning traffic signals
- Roadways designed with poor visibility near intersection and curves
- Unsafe road construction zones
Public entities that build and maintain roads have an obligation to take remedial action to correct road hazards that create an unreasonable and foreseeable risk of harm. Government entities are not liable for road hazards that cause collisions unless the government entities knew or should have known of the unsafe condition.