Dangerous road conditions like damaged roads, weather events, or even potholes could cause vehicle accidents in Nevada. Car accidents caused by dangerous road conditions occur severely. A 2006 study showed that dangerous road conditions caused about a third of US vehicle accidents resulting in over 20,000 fatalities and two million injury cases. These accidents could be extremely complex because they involve government agencies, and most of these are immune to lawsuits.
At Dallas Horton & Associates, we have the experience, resources, and knowledge to handle tough cases. Our attorneys can handle cases within the stringent Nevada rules and sue state agencies for negligence in car accident cases. Hire us today for a strong presentation and allow you to recuperate, especially if you sustained severe injuries. If you or your loved one is involved in a dangerous road condition accident in Las Vegas, NV, contact us for your cost-free case evaluation.
Types of Dangerous Road Conditions
Dangerous road conditions range from issues with road construction to road sign problems and lane marking issues. If you are involved in a vehicle accident, you must determine if a problem with the road could have caused the accident.
Hailstorms, snow, rain, and sleet could wreak havoc on highways. These adverse weather conditions could reduce visibility and render the road surface dangerous to drive over. Weather events affect traffic flow, highway capacity, and traffic speed. These conditions increase the possibility of being involved in a Nevada road accident.
Bad weather could delay breaking and reaction time or even make you misjudge the required stopping distance. Even though bad weather could worsen the road conditions, you could be liable for a car accident. This is because it is your responsibility to control your car, including driving at a safe speed, shifting into the right gear, turning headlights, and piling over until road conditions become better.
Road visibility is minimized during a foggy day. You can hardly see the motorists in front of you, road bends, or roadway signs. Even if 5% of weather-related road crashes were due to foggy conditions per the US Department of Transportation, it is still a dangerous road condition.
Per the US Department of Transportation, dangerous road conditions, including icy and snowy conditions, cause 20% of all weather-related car accidents. During the winter season, snowy roads and black could pose the danger of accidents. When precipitation or slush freezes on the surface, the formation of ice occurs. These ice patches could be covered in thin layers of snow or entirely exposed.
You could hardly notice black ice, especially if you are more worried about the snowy weather. When you drive on a black ice patch, your car tires could lose traction, challenging your steering, and make your car veer off the roadway or crash into another car.
According to the National Weather Service, 45 road users died in car accidents that strong winds caused. When you are driving, and gusts of strong winds sweep across the roadway, they could make your car lose control momentarily when they get under the car. Also, strong winds could push your car, causing steering and braking functionality to jam for a short while.
Rain Covered Roads and Puddles
When your area experiences a heavy downpour, the road becomes covered with puddles. Dips on the road surface allow the formation of a pool and could make your tires maintain traction. When you speed over puddles, your car could hydroplane or jam your braking system.
According to the US Department of Transport, approximately 70% of weather-related road crashes occur on wet roads. Apart from speeding on wet roads, tailgating another car could cause an accident due to a reduced stopping time when the car skids.
Damaged and Poorly Designed Roads
Road contractors, traffic, soil conditions, and the weather could cause damage to roads. Poor road designs could lead to improper drainage or narrower shoulders that could cause car accidents. Examples of poor road designs are improper lighting, weak or nonexistent guardrails, or failure to install road signs. A damaged or poorly designed road increases the risk of road accidents and harm to road users. More than often, damaged roads are caused by minute problems that with time worsen owing to negligence.
When a section of a road is poorly designed, it is the liability of the municipality or city authorities to repair the design. If the government is liable for maintaining or designing the road, accident victims could take legal action against the agency for negligence. Due to short statutes of limitations, you want to file a personal injury claim fast.
Potholes and sinkholes
When a road is not well maintained, it could cause major damage to your vehicle or harm to you. Potholes are not uncommon road defects in many car accident cases. During bad weather or after substandard road construction, the asphalt could collapse inward, causing potholes. Potholes are notorious for causing tire punctures, head-on collisions, or even vehicle rollover. The pothole alone cannot create liability for your car accident, but negligence by the liable party to notice and repair the defect in good time could.
Sinkholes are depressions in the road that don't have natural external surface drainage. These usually occur when it rains, and water remains inside the sinkhole draining into the subsurface. Usually, the land remains intact until the underground becomes wide. Since there is limited support for the land above, the road suddenly collapses. Sinkholes are more dangerous than potholes because the entire vehicle could enter a sinkhole.
Uneven roadway defects could occur because of various causes. These could happen in construction zones that the engineers didn't block off properly, roads prone to wear due to weathering or overuse. Common causes of uneven pavements are lack of road signs, poor road maintenance, erosion, and improperly laid slabs.
Driving on an uneven lane or switching between uneven lanes could lead to an accident. The change in road height could change the tire directing, puncture, and axel damage. Even though they could affect you momentarily, these situations could cause you injuries or damage to your vehicle.
Dangerously Designed Roads
Many dangerous road conditions are inherent to the road designs. For example, a poorly designed intersection or crosswalk could put other road users at risk of harm when crossing the road. The city authorities are responsible for putting enough thought, research, and care into designing intersections, roads, and sidewalks. That way, the road users’ safety is guaranteed.
Missing signs, traffic signals, or lane markings
Road signs are what motorists use to know where they are, what route they should take or not take, and if there is danger ahead to proceed with caution. The city authority's responsibility is to erect warning signs when needed, for instance, ‘children crossing,’ ‘caution: falling rocks.’ If roadways signs are missing, motorists could easily be involved in an accident. Roadways signs that are obstructed by tree branches are also considered dangerous road conditions.
Inoperable traffic signals
An inoperable or broken traffic light at an intersection on a busy highway could result in catastrophic accidents. Two motorists could enter an intersection simultaneously, causing a T-bone collision. A motorist could also fail to yield right of way to another driver. Malfunctioning traffic lights, broken signages, and broken signal controls are considered dangerous road conditions and could lead to catastrophic car accidents.
Limited visibility and Driving in the Dark
While you can avoid driving when there is poor visibility, driving in the dark is inevitable. When driving in the dark, especially on roads with no street lights, you drive with impaired vision. Wildlife on the road, roadway signs, and lights could be hard to see. In 2018, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that road accidents involving deers caused 126 deaths.
Causes and Effects of Dangerous Road Conditions
Dangerous road conditions could result from normal tear and wear, an act of God, or negligence. In several cases, government entities could be held liable for damages if dangerous road conditions were caused by:
Defective Road Designs
Defective and improper roads and highway designs could cause car accidents. When roadways have poor drainage systems, water could collect on the road surface and increase the danger of hydroplaning. Defective road designs could cause curves, slopes, and dangerous dips. When road engineers are not careful, intersections could be dangerous, especially when obstacles inhibit your view of oncoming traffic. Examples of defective road designs include:
- Street drop-offs, including cliffs and ravines.
- Roadways with insufficient skid resistance.
- Entrance and exit ramps that are too short or don’t allow safe merging.
- Malfunctioned highway traffic signals
- Broken or lack of guardrails causing dangerous road conditions, for instance, in construction zones.
- Poor drainage that results in dangerous road conditions, causing hydroplaning.
- Objects obstructing visibility at crosswalks or intersections.
- Parking policies that limit visibility of a dangerous intersection.
- Obstructed or damaged road signages.
- Lane shoulders that are not visibly distinct enough from a distance.
- Dangerously snaking roads.
- Stiff slopes and dips.
Defective Road Maintenance
- Not repairing and maintaining dangerous road conditions like potholes.
- Not repairing damaged or replacing missing guardrails.
- After erosion occurs due to weather conditions, there is lowered visibility of painted markers. If the government ignores these, they become dangerous road conditions.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If a dangerous road caused your Nevada car accident, you want to hire a car accident attorney asap. Your attorney will secure your damaged car and engage an engineer experienced in road design and crashworthiness to inspect it. You could work with the said engineer to identify the angle and determine the speed at which your vehicle left the road.
You must photograph skid marks and measure them without delay. Your car accident lawyer could obtain images showing road signs, topographical maps, and road-building plans. These activities will reveal construction, maintenance, and street design issues.
How Your Lawyer Could Gather Evidence for Your Case
Dangerous road lawsuits are complex as the accused is not an individual but a county, city, or state with sufficient funding and legal resources. The agency could do anything in its jurisdiction to prevent your claim from being successful. Therefore, your attorney should have your vehicle and the road assessed fast. An experienced lawyer has a good rapport with traffic engineers and accident reconstruction experts. These professionals will help gather the necessary evidence you should present in court.
After finding the evidence, your attorney should assess the available evidence to ensure that no government immunity should stop your case from proceeding. The procedures involved in finding the evidence need interviews, depositions, and substantial discovery to prove that the agency knew or ought to have known about the dangerous road condition.
Making a Claim for Injuries from a Dangerous Road Condition
Engage your personal accident lawyer before filing your claim. You want to gather any information that could help you receive compensation, including:
- All records you have, including tickets, vehicle repair costs, medical bills, or police reports.
- The physical characteristics of the road conditions, including their dimensions.
- Witnesses’ contact information.
- The direction in which your car was moving.
- The particular road’s name where the accident occurred
- The dangerous road conditions’ location
You should also photograph or video record the accident scene and pieces of evidence, for example, accident location, physical harm, other cars involved. The specific pieces of evidence you could present in court include:
- Government Knowledge of Condition - you bear the burden to prove that the government had full knowledge of the dangerous road condition and refused to act accordingly.
- Car repair - You are required to present your car repair records associated with the damages done to your car owing to the road condition.
- Medical records - these include rehabilitation costs, hospital bills, and estimates of future therapy costs.
- Survey records - particular government agencies are tasked to conduct regular road surveys. This could help determine if the government knew about the road condition.
- Accident photos - as mentioned above, you need to take clear images of the accident scene. These should include your injuries, damages done to your vehicle, or the dangerous road condition that led to your car accident.
- Your testimony - you are allowed to testify on your behalf. You could tell the judge the exact account of events.
- Police report - law enforcers, usually respond to accidents when you or a witness calls them. The reports show the police findings, the case’s facts, and the investigator’s opinion regarding the accident cause.
- Witness report - you need to record what the witnesses say and use this as evidence in court to prove that the road conditions caused your car accident.
Determining Liability for a Dangerous Road Condition Accident
If a dangerous road caused your road accident, you want to find out who is liable. Hanging on the facts involved, the liable parties could be:
- The Manufacturer of the Road’s Construction Materials. Road construction material could be defective. These materials range from traffic signals to guardrails, concrete, and asphalt. If a product defect caused the accident, you could file a claim against the product manufacturer.
- The Road Construction or Maintenance Contractor. More than often, government entities engage private contractors to construct and maintain roads. If a road contractor is responsible for dangerous road conditions that caused you damage or injuries, the contractor should compensate you.
- The Road or Highway Authority. Several occurrences occur where the municipal or state authority mandated to construct and maintain roads are held responsible. Per the Nevada Tort Claims Act, there are special requirements for chasing compensation for personal injury or wrongful death against government agencies.
You want to engage your lawyer for prompt investigation and determining the particular accident cause. Two or more government entities could also share different maintenance mandates for a certain roadway. Determining the entity responsible is crucial for filing a claim and determining if the liable party could be sued without the injury claim process.
Proving Negligence in Road Maintenance/Planning
When you know who is liable for building and maintaining roads, you should gather enough evidence to prove that the entity’s negligence caused the car accident. That means that you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the entity knew about the road problem but refused to take necessary actions.
Proving The Dangerous Road Condition Caused You Harm
Before the court can award you compensation, you and your lawyer must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the government was liable for road maintenance. Also, you must prove the dangerous road condition caused your accident.
Types of Damages You Can Recover
After sustaining injuries in a car accident because of dangerous road conditions, you could file a claim against the liable and at-fault parties. Since suing the government is hard, you need to hire an experienced personal accident lawyer. Your attorney will file the claim on your behalf while you are recuperating, following are damages you could recover after a car accident:
- Loss of income.
- Emotional distress and pain.
- Ongoing treatment.
- Hospital bills.
- Future cost of treatment or disability.
In some situations, the court could award punitive damages. Also, if he car accidents resulted in someone else’s death, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit and receive compensation for:
- Loss of companionship and support.
- Financial losses.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
The Statute of Limitations
Under Nevada law, you can take legal action against government entities liable for maintaining roads. Under the Nevada Tort Claims Act, you should file a case against a government agency within two years of your injury or loved one’s death. Many people are not aware of the short time limit, so many victims do not sue government agencies.
If the statute of limitations lapse before you file a claim, you lose the chance to seek compensation from the at-fault party. That is why you need to talk to a lawyer to help you beat the deadlines and keep you posted concerning your case’s progress.
The Sovereign Immunity of the Government
Even if you file a lawsuit within two years, you must meet the challenge of government immunity. Normally, government entities are immune from lawsuits. However, in negligence situations like repairing potholes, a lawsuit could be filed. You need a competent and experienced attorney to maneuver the complex, convoluted procedural and notice the Nevada Tort Claims Act requirement to prevent the case from being dismissed.
While the government should be protecting your rights, they don't want to be responsible for the harm caused to you. Your government could argue that something else other than a dangerous road condition caused your car accident. Examples of the arguments include:
- Another cause was the primary accident cause, including:
- An unexpected act of nature caused your car accident.
- You spilled hot chocolate on yourself.
- Another motorist’s negligence.
- Distracted driving was the actual cause of the accident. For instance, you were texting while driving, changing your radio station, eating while driving, or even tending to your child.
- You were drunk driving.
- You were driving recklessly.
The government could also say that its authorities did not know of the dangerous road condition. Another argument is that the government did not have a sufficient time frame to repair the road condition.
Find a Car Accident Lawyer Near Me
When dangerous road conditions cause damage to your car or severe bodily harm, you bear the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the condition caused or was part of the accident cause. Filing a lawsuit against a government entity involves a complex process. You want to hire an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the Nevada justice system.
At Dallas Horton & Associates, our car accident lawyers skillfully handle dangerous road conditions accidents, including those involving poorly designed roads, potholes, and broken traffic lights. Contact us for expert legal assistance if you are involved in a road crash in Las Vegas, NV. We will thoroughly assess all your case’s facts and help chase the compensation you deserve. If you think you may have a claim, call us today at 702-380-3100 to schedule your free consultation.