Defective Roadways Create Unsafe Conditions And Accidents Occur
Proper roadway design, construction, and maintenance are key to a safe transportation infrastructure. When roadways are not safe, the conditions can either cause or contribute to serious accidents that harm passengers and pedestrians alike.
If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident, the accident that resulted in your injuries may have been caused by a defective roadway or improperly designed roadway equipment. Road equipment such as guardrails, barriers and dividers, crash cushions, bridge railings, sign and light pole supports, are meant to save lives. Yet when they are improperly designed or carelessly installed, they can contribute to serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in an accident caused by a defective roadway or other unsafe road condition, contact the Lake Charles defective roadway lawyers of the Townsley Law Firm for a free initial consultation by calling 337-377-0584.
Roadways Are Contributing Factor In Accidents
A 1985 US study showed that about 34% of serious crashes had contributing factors related to the roadway or its environment. Most of these auto crashes also involved a human factor. The road or environmental factor either contributed to the road user error, or did not allow room to recover from such an error.
Some Improvements Made In Roadway Design
As these contributory factors have been more widely studied, there have been attempts to reduce the number of crashes by modifying the physical road conditions. Such modifications include:
- Road layout changes, with redesigned junctions, roundabouts and grade separated interchanges, and through-traffic bypassing pedestrian areas
rest areas and motorway service areas
- More and better signage and signals for road users and pedestrians
- Wide multi-lane roads with divided lanes
- Treatments of the road surface to modify skid resistance, such as applying special materials or road drains and grooving for rainwater runoff
Alongside the highway, roadway design can include:
- Level and unobstructed roadside clear zones to give errant motorists room to recover control without striking fixed objects, or encountering hazardous slopes
- Roadside fixtures that are designed to reduce the consequences and risk of injury if struck. (Examples include culvert ends covered with traversable gratings, sign posts that break away when struck, guardrails, and impact attenuators that dissipate or redirect kinetic energy in a collision.)
- Sufficient visibility at intersections and other potential hazard points.
Who Is Responsible For Safe Roadways?
Local and state governments are responsible for providing safe roadways in accordance with state and federal standards. Simply put, the roadway conditions must not present an unreasonable risk of harm to vehicle passengers. Some defects that can cause an unreasonable risk of harm to vehicle operators and passengers are:
- Obstructed signage
- Poor signage or barriers in areas of construction
- Poor and improper design
- Potholes and other surface defects
- Trees and debris on the roadway
- Steep shoulder drop-offs
- Inadequate or malfunctioning warning signs and signals
In situations where driver error is not the only cause of an accident, a defective highway or street may cause or contribute to resultant injuries. Sometimes a governmental entity can even be held liable for a single car accident that occurs on defectively designed street or roadway.
Louisiana Roadways Standards In Effect
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has a statutory duty to “study, administer, construct, improve, maintain, repair, and regulate” the use of public highways and roads. Fulfillment of this duty necessarily requires that DOTD “adopt minimum safety standards with respect to highway and bridge design, construct on, and maintenance.”
Those standards are to correlate with and conform to, as far as possible, the standards approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Whether DOTD has breached its duty to the motoring public, by knowingly maintaining a defective or unreasonably dangerous roadway, ultimately depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual case.
Attorneys Familiar With Roadway Statutes
Defective roadway cases can be very complex. An attorney who is familiar with Louisiana statutes can help you determine whether the state or another entity may be liable for injuries caused by an unsafe road condition. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and help you understand your options for seeking compensation for your injury.