Road Hazards and Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents
Road hazards are unfortunately an unavoidable occurrence for most drivers. While most vehicles are fine hitting the occasional pothole, in some cases, a road hazard can lead to a devastating motor vehicle accident. But who can be held liable for the injuries and property damage that may result from an auto accident that was triggered by a road hazard?
That’s what we answer below:
Common Road Hazards
Some of the most frequent road hazards that may be encountered by motorists include:
- Broken or uneven pavement
- Debris, including debris from prior motor vehicle accidents or debris from road works or nearby construction
- Untreated snow and ice
- Adverse weather conditions, including heavy rain, snow, hail, or fog
- Items that have fallen off trucks or other vehicles
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Motor Vehicle Accident Caused by a Road Hazard?
Liability for an auto accident that is caused by a road hazard will depend on the type of hazard involved. For example, debris on the road that causes a crash may lead to liability for the driver of the vehicle that the debris fell off of, or for a trucking company if cargo fell off a truck. A construction company may also have liability for leaving hazardous debris on the roadway. Unfortunately, in many cases, it may be impossible to track down the source of roadway debris unless there are eyewitnesses or surveillance footage that can identify where the debris came from.
The government may also have liability for certain road hazards, such as potholes or untreated snow and ice. However, the government’s liability for accidents caused by road hazards is very limited. In most cases, it may be necessary to show that the government had notice of a road hazard that posed a substantial risk to motorists and consciously or recklessly disregarded undertaking repairs or other efforts to remove the hazard.
A state or local government responsible for a road may also be held liable for defective design and construction of the road that ends up creating a hazard to drivers. For example, if the road is built in such a way that rainwater cannot drain and eventually pools after a storm, the government might have liability, particularly where the government had notice of the defective design of the roadway. The government might also have liability for a nearby rock face that collapses and sends boulders and debris onto the roadway or even directly onto passing vehicles.
Unfortunately, there are some road hazards that no one has liability for. For example, an accident that is caused by falling rain, hail, or snow, or an accident that is caused by a wild animal running out into the roadway is usually no one’s fault. However, the government may have responsibility for accidents caused by crossing animals where the government was aware that the area was inhabited by animals such as deer and that deer frequently entered or crossed the road, but the government failed to post warning signs to advise motorists to be alert for animals.
Read more: Night Driving is a Common Cause of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Contact a Perth Amboy Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at CourtLaw represent clients injured because of car accidents in Hoboken, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, East Orange, and throughout New Jersey. Call (732) 442-5900 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 163 Market St., Perth Amboy, NJ 08861, as well as offices in New Brunswick, Roselle, East Orange, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Linden, Newark, Paterson, South Amboy, and Trenton.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.