If you have been in a car accident that did not involve another driver, you may wonder whether you have any recourse. If a dangerous road condition caused the accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
Road maintenance continues to plague drivers and cyclists, both in Florida and across the nation. If you have suffered injury due to negligent road maintenance, it is in your best interest to speak to a dangerous road condition accident & injury lawyer in Jacksonville, FL.
At Anidjar & Levine, you will meet with a member of our team familiar with all aspects of negligent road condition claims. There is no cost to you for this meeting. All you need to do is call 1-800-747-3733.
Types of Dangerous Road Conditions that May Give Rise to Negligence Claims
Both negligently designed and negligently maintained roads can create foreseeable hazards for motorists.
Poor road design includes lanes that are uneven or too narrow, unsafe curves, or pavement drop-offs. A lack of guardrails can also be problematic. Rains that do not drain properly can cause vehicles to lose traction when rain accumulates, i.e., hydroplaning.
Road construction can lead to accidents from debris, falling objects, and large trucks or heavy equipment moving throughout the construction site. Sometimes those responsible for the construction site fail to warn drivers of potential hazards. Temporary signage can obstruct drivers’ views, making navigation even more difficult.
Malfunctioning traffic signals put drivers and pedestrians at risk. Potholes, bumps, and rutted pavement can be especially troubling for bicyclists and motorcyclists.
Other examples of hazardous conditions include faded lines on the roadway, inadequate lighting, and foliage that obscures signs or clear views.
Responsibility for Negligent Road Maintenance
A government entity or its subcontractor could be liable if any of these conditions caused your dangerous road condition accident and injury. In Florida, special laws try to prevent citizens from suing their local government for wrongdoing. “Sovereign immunity” is the term for this body of law.
The Florida Department of Transportation and local municipalities enjoy this protection of sovereign immunity (as do other government entities). However, this does not mean that the government does not owe its citizens any legal duties of care.
Exceptions to Sovereign Immunity
Sovereign immunity generally applies to the discretionary decision-making authority that a government entity has. Sovereign immunity might not apply in the tactical carrying out of duties.
Under Florida Statutes section 768.28 it is possible to prosecute a claim against a government entity if the government creates a dangerous condition, the condition directly causes an accident, and the accident causes injuries. Failure of an entity to remedy the problem or warn the public, despite knowledge of the problem, can constitute an operation level failure. In cases of negligent acts or omissions at the operational level, sovereign immunity does not apply.
Factors to Look For
All negligence claims first involve the following question of law: did the defendant owe the victim a legal duty? If the answer to that question is “yes,” then the next question is whether the defendant breached that duty.
In a successful claim, a victim must show:
- The entity is responsible for the area where the accident occurred.
- The entity owed a non-delegable duty to the victim at an operational level.
- The entity against whom the victim is asserting the claim was responsible for carrying out a specific function and failed to do so (or should have warned the victim and failed to do so).
- A specific hazard existed and a reasonable person could have foreseen the likelihood of an accident based upon the hazard.
- If the entity safely maintained the road, promptly repaired the road, or warned drivers of the hazard, the accident would not have occurred.
Your case could require a civil engineering expert to opine on road design, construction, or maintenance. The elements of duty, breach, and causation must be present in every case. If they are, the next analysis is damages.
Damages in a Claim for Negligent Road Maintenance
If a government entity breached its duty, the breach directly caused your personal injury, and sovereign immunity does not apply, then you are entitled to compensation. You may believe that the hard part is over.
The issue of damages, however, can be a complicated one.
Experienced attorneys spend significant time calculating losses to compile a demand for fair compensation. While every case is different, expert witnesses on the issue of damages are usually vocational, medical, and economic.
The vocational expert may testify there is an issue about the injured victim’s future capacity to earn money. The medical expert may testify about the victim’s injuries and likelihood of future medical needs. The economic expert may testify about the financial impact of lost earnings and the fluctuating nature of the value of money, helping to protect the victim from inflation.
Types of Damages
Even medical expenses covered by insurance are part of a victim’s damages. Medical expenses include surgery, hospitalization, therapy/rehabilitation, counseling, and pain management. Durable medical equipment and other out-of-pocket expenses that directly arose from the accident are other components.
The reasonable value of household services is also important. Accidents, unfortunately, leave victims unable to perform services for which they now must hire others to do.
Future expenses are compensable in addition to past expenses.
Both past and future physical pain, emotional anguish, and mental suffering are part of your damages. While these do not have a specific dollar value, the more permanent and debilitating one’s injuries are, the more pain and suffering that individual will experience during his/her lifetime.
If the case is a wrongful death lawsuit, damages are available to both the estate and surviving family members.
We Help You Build a Compelling Case
When you work with an attorney familiar with a dangerous road condition accident & injury lawyer in Jacksonville, FL, you give your case its best possible chance of success. The best time to take action is now. Call us now for your free consultation at 1-800-747-3733.