The Dangers of Defective Highways

Many people would be surprised to find that a sizeable number of car accidents, injuries and deaths are caused by hazardous road conditions or poorly designed highways and bridges. State or local governments, agencies, and municipalities can be held liable for creating hazards on the roadways that millions of vehicles depend on for safety each year, but bringing these challenges can be more difficult than those against a private party.

Some of these hazards include improper lane marking, dangerous intersections, potholes, old, unsafe bridges, defective traffic lights, missing signs, icy/dangerous roads, lack of guardrails, and other hazardous conditions that can give rise to accidents. Many of Pennsylvania’s roads are pitted and even many guardrails that are necessary to prevent serious accidents are missing. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has stated that it doesn’t have the funding to address the many issues that plague the state’s highways.

 

Special Rules for Suing Governments

Bringing claims against a city, town, or state government can be more difficult because special rules apply. For example, although the statute of limitations is typically two years in personal injury lawsuits, for claims against a city, county, or state government agency, you must file within six months, and provide a notice of claim to the government. In this sense, the government should reasonably have been put on notice of the problem that caused your accident. Your case has a much better chance if the government entity has been put on notice of the issue via previous accidents and notoriety about the hazard.

In addition, many local governments enjoy protection from liability for some claims due to sovereign or governmental tort immunity. In the instance of an accident due to dangerous highway conditions, any private companies who contract with the local government to perform repairs or construction may also be subject to legal liability for an existing hazard.

Although both the Sovereign Immunity Act and the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act bar certain suits against a Commonwealth party and local municipalities, both contain exceptions which include the condition of the sidewalks, highways, traffic controls, potholes and other dangerous conditions.  However, the Sovereign Immunity Act limits recovery to a maximum of $250,000 in favor of any one individual plaintiff or $1,000,000 in the aggregate. Damages can cover past and future earnings and earning capacity; pain and suffering; medical and dental expenses; loss of consortium; and property losses.

 

Solnick & Associates

Before successfully being able to win a lawsuit against a government entity, you must be able to prove that there was negligence. The auto accident attorneys at Solnick & Associates have represented many victims across Pennsylvania, recovering damages in verdicts and settlements for victims and their families in cases related to negligence. If you or someone you know has been injured due to poor road conditions, Solnick & Associates can help you. Our experienced team can provide assistance—we look forward to discussing your case.