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Negligent road design

The cause of each motor-vehicle crash isn't always what it appears

On the surface, the cause of many crashes seems cut-and dried. For example, when a vehicle loses control on a curve and crashes, it would appear that the driver was probably driving too fast or misjudged the vehicle's performance ability.

Sometimes the design of the roadway itself is a contributing factor to an accident

Usually a state agency, such as a department of transportation, is tasked with overseeing the design, construction, and maintenance of highways. Many courts and authorities have held that these agencies have a duty to exercise reasonable diligence to maintain streets and highways in a safe condition. This includes a duty to inspect, warn of unsafe conditions, and to make appropriate and timely repairs. Legal actions against a DOT or other agency are often based on claims of negligence asserting that there was a breach of duty which caused injury. Factors which some courts and authorities have looked at to determine whether a safe road condition was maintained include:
  • whether the condition conforms to generally accepted engineering principles and standards;
  • the likelihood that someone will be harmed by the condition;
  • the availability of ways to correct the condition;
  • the financial burdens of removing or fixing the condition.

Examples of negligent road design 

Some crashes are caused by faulty road maintenance, while others may be caused by design defects. Examples of roadway defects include:
  • roadway defects such as potholes, ridges, bumps, slick pavement, and fallen trees;
  • roadside defects such as pavement drop offs and narrow shoulder, and steep embankments;
  • defects in signage associated with roadways;
  • defects related to bridges, detours, and railroad crossings.

What to do if a collision is caused by negligent road design

If you have been injured in a crash that you suspect was caused by negligent road design, it is crucial to consult with an experienced road design attorney who understands the complexities associated with these types of claims, and has the background and resources to tackle a complicated case. An initial consultation is typically free and will provide an injured person with the information they need to decide what to do next.
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Hopson Anderson's left leg was riding her motorcycle in Whatcom County, Washington when she began negotiating a tight curve. Her motorcycle crossed the center line of the road and she struck another vehicle. As she clipped the oncoming vehicle, she severely injured her left leg. Her injuries resulted in an amputation of her left leg below the knee. A male passenger on her motorcycle additionally suffered a fractured left leg.
  Early in the morning on October 12, 1981 Jerry Baudensdistel, a 21-year-old shift supervisor at a bakery was driving his motorcycle down Charter Way in the city of Stockton. A pickup truck emerged off of Aurora Street, and Baudendistel slams his motorcycle into the truck, and was ran over by a third vehicle. He sustained serious injuries in the crash, including partial paraplegia, with a loss of functioning below the waist. He also suffered constant muscle spasms.
  Mr. Zamarripa, a 17-­year­-old youth, sustained severe brain damage, including spastic paralysis and a speech impediment when the motorcycle he was riding as a passenger crashed into a van at an intersection. Zamarripa claimed that a five foot high wall on the Union Oil company’s property caused his stepfather, who was driving the motorcycle, to be unable to see on-coming cars at the intersection. Zamarripa sued the city of Coachella for negligently placing the wall.