Car Accidents Caused by Road Defects
At Crantford Meehan, we understand the trauma of getting hurt in an accident. Sometimes, even the most responsible drivers can’t navigate dangerous roads safely. You can hold the at-fault party liable if you lose control and crash.
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Common Road Defects That Cause Car Accidents
Erosion, flooding, damage, and other factors can contribute to a defective roadway. Natural wear and tear from frequent vehicle travel compromises structural integrity. Some problems are unavoidable, but the negligent actions of specific people and entities can also create those defects and put others in harm’s way.
Defects develop when damage, debris, and other hazards go unaddressed. It increases the likelihood of an accident, especially if motorists don’t pay attention to their surroundings or behave carelessly at the wheel.
The most common types of road defects include:
- Uneven roads – Driving on uneven roads is challenging. The unstable surface makes it harder to keep the vehicle in the lane. Motorists can’t stay on course if dips and drop-offs pull their cars in the wrong direction.
- Missing guardrails – Guardrails prevent vehicles from rolling down embankments or cliffs. They also absorb the impact of a collision. Without guardrails, nothing keeps drivers from crashing into a pond or driving off a bridge.
- Potholes – Potholes might start as a minor issue. Poor weather conditions, changing temperatures, and other complications cause them to expand and deepen. Driving over a pothole can puncture a tire or cause motorists to lose control of their vehicle.
- Inadequate drainage – Flooding can occur if rainwater doesn’t drain from the road. A car can suddenly hydroplane or stall, causing a collision
- Road debris – Debris commonly accumulates on roadways. Trash, leaves, and other items create obstacles drivers must navigate to avoid a crash. Government agencies must remove debris promptly to prevent dangerous conditions from disrupting the normal flow of traffic.
- Ineffective signage – Damaged, missing, or confusing signs don’t direct motorists around others. It’s more difficult to determine how fast to drive, when to yield, or whether there’s a dangerous curve ahead.
- Poor lighting conditions – Adequate lighting improves visibility, so drivers notice dead animals, potholes, and other hazards. Missing or poorly placed streetlights create challenges in reading traffic signs or seeing pedestrians crossing the road.
- Construction areas – Construction workers must warn motorists of construction zones with barriers, cones, and other safety devices. Knowing when to slow down and how to navigate around these dangerous areas is crucial.
Who Is Liable for an Accident Caused by Road Defects?
The government is often responsible for repairing and maintaining roads. Proper upkeep is necessary to fix defects, uncover structural problems, and remove known hazards. Placing warning signs is necessary if promptly addressing the defect isn’t possible. Anyone injured in a car crash due to a defect might have grounds for a lawsuit against the government.
Typically, sovereign immunity protects government entities from liability. That means no one can file a lawsuit against an entity for accidents arising from its misconduct or an employee’s negligence.
However, the South Carolina Tort Claims Act waives immunity under specific circumstances. You could hold the state, a political subdivision, an agency, or a governmental entity liable when their actions have caused you injury.
A claim against the government requires a person to suffer a loss proximately caused by a political subdivision, an agency, a governmental entity, or the state and its employee acting within the scope of their official duty.
Compensation Available After Injuries from a Road Defect
The compensation you can recover will depend on who caused the dangerous road conditions that led to the car crash. Governmental entities often carry liability insurance with significant coverage.
Anyone registering a motor vehicle in South Carolina must have auto insurance with liability coverage.
The law requires maintaining minimum limits of:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death in one accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
You could hold another driver liable for the car crash if they didn’t navigate the road defect responsibly. For example, if another motorist didn’t slow down for a pothole they were approaching and caused the collision, you could file a claim with their liability insurer.
Whether you file a claim or lawsuit against an at-fault driver, the compensation you secure might cover your:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Emergency room visits, prescriptions, rehab, and other medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
You can file a claim with your auto insurance company if the negligent motorist doesn’t have liability insurance. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pays lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering for injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) covers the cost of repairing a vehicle.
Deadline for Filing a Lawsuit in South Carolina
If you sustained an injury in a car crash due to another driver’s negligence, the statute of limitations allows a three-year timeframe to file a lawsuit. You must initiate your lawsuit within three years of the accident to seek compensation.
The timeframe is shorter if you sue the government for the road defect. The statute of limitations allows a two-year timeframe to file suit.
Get Help from an Experienced Charleston Car Accident Attorney
Don’t pursue your case alone. Let Crantford Meehan represent you against the negligent government entity. We will fight by your side for the compensation you deserve.
Call us at [phone-number linked=true] for a free consultation if you get hurt in a car accident caused by a road defect.
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