Many people involved in motor vehicle accidents assume the only possible defendant is the other driver. In single-vehicle collisions and some multivehicle accidents, however, it is not another driver that bears fault for the accident but the city for a defective roadway. Road defects can make rural and urban streets unreasonably dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.
Road Defects That Could Cause Accidents
Many types of road defects could lead to preventable vehicle accidents. Even a minor defect could lead to disaster for a vulnerable road user such as a motorcyclist or bicyclist. A motorist could hit or encounter a road defect and lose control of his or her vehicle. If a pothole causes a tire blowout, for example, the vehicle could careen out of control, rollover and/or crash. Many avoidable or reparable road defects could cause collisions in the State of Georgia.
- Defective road surfaces
- Cracked or crumbling asphalt
- Uneven shoulder
- Soft soil or sand
- Puddles or standing water (inadequate drainage)
- Missing or damaged guardrails
- Dangerous curves
- Missing reflectors
- Obscured roadway signs
- Broken traffic lights
- Inadequate street lighting
- Fallen trees or debris in the road
- Downed power lines
- Dangerous construction zones
- Faded road paint
- Poor roadway design
While the road owner and maintenance crew may not be responsible for weather-related car accidents, it might be liable for road defects that caused or contributed to the collision. The rain itself might not point to government liability, for example, but the city’s failure to implement an effective drainage system, leading to an excessive amount of standing water and a hydroplane accident, could place liability with the city. You might need an Atlanta car accident attorney to investigate your accident and determine fault on your behalf before you can file a claim.
Who Is Responsible in an Accident Caused By a Road Defect?
It is the city government’s responsibility to regularly inspect its roads, respond promptly to reports of road defects and arrange for quality repairs. If the city fails to fulfill the accepted duties of care and a motorist crashes due to a related road defect, the city could be accountable for related damages, including medical bills and vehicle repairs. The city is typically the first potential defendant in a road defect claim, followed by the county and the Georgia Department of Transportation. The defendant will depend on which entity owns the road and was responsible for routine maintenance and repairs.
The burden of proof on you during a car accident claim will be to prove that another government entity would have known about and remedied the defect sooner than the defendant did, preventing the crash in question. If you or your lawyer can prove this more likely to be true than not true, the government might have to pay for your damages. A personal injury lawyer can help you bring and prove a claim against the correct government entity in Georgia.
Statute of Limitations to File a Claim Against the Government
Claims against the government in Georgia are unique. They invoke different laws, rules, and regulations compared to car accident claims against nongovernment entities. One of the most important differences to recognize is the statute of limitations or deadline to bring a claim. The statute of limitations to bring a typical car accident case in Georgia is two years from the date of the collision for an injury claim or four years for a property-damage only lawsuit.
For a case against a government entity, however, your window to file is much shorter. You will only have six months from the date of your car accident to bring a claim against the city, or one year to bring a claim against the county or state government. It is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta as soon as possible after a car, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian accident involving a road defect in Georgia. Otherwise, you might miss your statute of limitations and lose the right to file. The government could be liable for a road defect that caused your accident.