From highways and city streets to unpaved rural roads, Texas has this and more. Sometimes, drivers never know what to expect when it comes to road conditions. Even high-traffic freeways like I-10 and I-59 aren’t always in the best condition.
Between what seems like never-ending roadwork and occasional poor road conditions, vehicles can take a beating. Sometimes, these road conditions can even lead to accidents, but who can you hold responsible for the damages? The legal considerations for accidents on dangerous roads are often complex and are rarely something you want to handle without an attorney.
Types of Road Hazards
Did you know that roads actually have an average lifespan? Don’t worry if this is something that’s never crossed your mind. You may worry about the lifespan of your home’s HVAC system or washing machine, but aren’t roads supposed to last forever?
Unfortunately, roads don’t last forever. In fact, the average road only has a lifespan of around 20 years. Add in Texas’s summer heat and occasional freezing temperatures, and don’t forget about hurricanes, and you can understand how road damage occurs.
Even though Texas works diligently to keep its roads in relatively good repair, it’s impossible to keep up with every hazard. Unfortunately, these hazards can turn an ordinary street into a dangerous road. So, what makes some roads more dangerous than others? A few examples include:
- Faded paint
- Uneven surfaces
- Damaged or missing guardrails
- Faulty infrastructure design
- Fallen construction equipment
- Inadequate signage
- Poor roadside lighting
- Debris on the road
- Improper road drainage
If the road conditions are directly responsible for your vehicle accident, who is responsible for the damages? Even if another vehicle is involved, is the driver the only one at fault? Knowing who is the responsible party for your vehicle accident is crucial if you’re planning on pursuing a personal injury and/or property damage case.
Who is Responsible for Accidents on Dangerous Roads
So, you’re in a vehicle accident on a dangerous road, meaning a street with poor driving conditions. Sometimes, the road conditions are a secondary factor in the accident, which can be especially true if the car collision is the result of a driver’s negligence.
Some examples of driver negligence include driving while intoxicated, and speeding and distracted driving may also be the primary cause of the accident. In this case, the driver is mostly to blame for the accident, which is who you’ll name in your personal injury case.
There are times when all drivers involved in a vehicle collision are obeying all Texas traffic laws, which means that no one is speeding or engaging in any other type of reckless driving behavior.
You can also just bite the bullet and let your insurance company handle coverage for your medical expenses and vehicle damage. While this is the easiest way to receive at least some compensation, it also comes with significant downsides.
Your insurance rates will probably increase, and your compensation may not be enough to cover all of your expenses. Even though it will take some effort, it usually pays off in the end when you can determine who’s at fault for your accident. When it comes to who’s to blame for dangerous road conditions, the list of possible responsible parties can be extensive.
A good way to narrow down the list is to determine who’s responsible for road maintenance. For example, is it a country, city, or state road? You also need to determine the cause of the accident. Is it due to a faulty traffic signal, road construction, or debris?
Proving Liability for Dangerous Road Conditions
Okay, you’ve figured out who’s responsible for the dangerous road conditions. For example, the state is responsible for I-10, and Harris County takes care of FM1960. If your vehicle is damaged by one of San Jacinto’s infamous potholes, the city of Houston is responsible for your damage.
After determining responsibility, you now need to prove negligence. Proving negligence isn’t always easy, especially in dangerous road accident cases. There are four elements you’ll need to prove:
- Duty of care: The public entity was responsible for designing, constructing, or maintaining the roadway
- Breach of duty: The public entity was aware that the road involved was in a dangerous condition at the time of the accident but failed to take the proper and necessary measures to repair the damaged road
- Causation: The dangerous road condition caused the accident that led to your injuries
- Damages: The injuries you sustained from the accident resulted in damages
As you can see, these four elements work together. Once you can prove duty of care, the rest are a little easier to support.
Statute of Limitations in Dangerous Road Cases
Typically, you have two years to file a personal injury or property damage claim in Texas. However, this doesn’t apply to damages sustained by dangerous road conditions. According to Texas law, you only have six months to file a claim for damages, which means getting started immediately. The clock starts ticking on the date of the accident.
Your claim must also include some specific information, and there aren’t any exceptions since failing to include this information may result in your claim being dismissed. So, what do you need to include on your claim form?
- The date of the accident
- The location where the accident occurred
- Description of the injuries or damages the accident caused
- Details of how the accident happened
When you describe the details of the accident, don’t write a book. Keep your information short and sweet. In other words, only include relevant information. If your claim form contains a lot of useless information, it can lead to a denial. Why? Basically, no one is taking the time to read your accident claim report.
Contact an Attorney If You’re Injured on a Dangerous Road
Navigating the complexities of determining liability and completing claim forms after an accident can be overwhelming and intricate.
Engaging an accident attorney for a case evaluation is a wise decision to simplify this process and maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve. An attorney’s expertise can provide clarity and support every step of the way, helping you avoid common pitfalls and ensuring your rights are fully protected.