Who Is Liable if a Road Issue Caused My Accident?
Vehicle accidents are most often caused by drivers. In these cases, it is relatively simple to determine fault and collect compensation. One driver is typically at fault and, therefore, financially responsible for expenses related to the accident. But what happens when your accident was caused by a lack of adequate road maintenance? Will you be stuck paying for repairs yourself or relying on your insurance?
Road Maintenance Liability
If your accident was caused by a pothole or other roadway condition resulting from poor maintenance, you can still seek compensation for your injuries and other expenses. This compensation comes as the result of a personal injury suit. The first step in your case will be to determine who is responsible for adequately maintaining the road, which requires knowing the precise location of the damage which caused the accident.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining interstates, U.S. routes, and state roads. However, any other road is the responsibility of the county, city, or town in which the road is located. Responsibility can become a bit complicated when state roads cross through cities, so enlist the help of an attorney to ensure that your suit names the proper agency.
Before you can collect compensation, you must be able to prove a few key things:
- Poor road maintenance caused the accident.
- The accident caused the injuries and damage for which compensation is being sought.
- The agency responsible knew or should have known of the condition of the road.
- The agency could have and should have repaired the damage.
- The agency chose not to make the necessary repairs.
In many cases, your claim will be dismissed because the responsible agency did not know about the damage or had not had adequate time to repair the damage. Although agencies are expected to monitor road conditions, they cannot be held liable for knowing the conditions of all roads at all times.
It is also important to note that you will not be able to hold the agency responsible for road maintenance liable for dangerous conditions caused by the weather. It is your decision to drive in poor weather conditions, regardless of the inability of road crews to keep all roads clear at all times during extreme weather.
Even if you can prove all of these things, you may still be unable to pursue your suit due to sovereign immunity, which prevents citizens from suing the government. Indiana law states that government agencies and officials can only be sued in very specific circumstances. Although the law does allow for suit in the event of roads not properly maintained, it states only that the roads must be kept in a reasonably safe condition for drivers. The law also restricts suits related to the poor design of roadways to the first 20 years after the road’s design.
Contact an Attorney
The experienced attorneys at Truitt Law Offices can help you to collect the compensation you need to cover your accident expenses. Don’t let the fear of suing a government entity prevent you from seeking the damages you deserve.