Do you envision a car hitting another car after hearing the phrase "car accident"? Many people do. Perhaps it was dark and one of the drivers was sleepy or had too much to drink.
However, road defects are what cause many accidents, whether they involve a single vehicle or multiple vehicles.
Examples of road defects
Chances are you see at least one road defect several times a week. Examples include:
- Concrete island taking up the middle of an intersection
- Improper signage
- Obstructed signage
- Missing guardrails
- Malfunctioning traffic lights
- Excessive grades
A common occurrence is when a tree blocks a driver's view of a stop sign until the driver is almost upon it. For drivers familiar with the area, remembering the stop sign is there may be easy enough. On the other hand, if you are unfamiliar with the area, you may not notice the stop sign at all. Another example could be when a driver is emerging from a curve and misses a stop sign.
Who is responsible
Much of the time, it is the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that people sue for road defects. However, state law limits its liability, so it is even more critical to have an attorney familiar with the nuances of this type of proceeding. Attorneys can also cover upfront costs of a lawsuit and help you meditate or negotiate a settlement. They also ensure you meet all filing deadlines and the statute of limitations.
Just as importantly, it is not always immediately obvious that a road defect is to blame, either wholly or partially, for an accident. Even the drivers, responding police officers or insurance company might not realize that something obscured a stop sign or that a curve was unreasonably steep or excessive. Instead, they put the blame squarely on the driver(s). An attorney can survey the accident site and relevant photos to determine whether a road defect played a role.