Under California laws, before any road can be built, the lay out of the road must be reviewed by a road design engineer who will assess whether all the criteria of a safe road is met. Things like sight line, merging distance, speed limit, and numerous other factors must be considered before the California transportation agency, Caltrans can approve the road for construction. When all of the safety guidelines are not met, the road design can become the cause of a serious motor vehicle accident, in which case, Caltrans or another entity may be held liable for the damages that resulted from the defective road design accident. To determine the legitimacy of a defective road design claim, there are several questions that must be raised:
Who owned the property on which the accident occurred?
Determining who owned the property claimants can identify the defendants. In most road design claims, defendants are typically public entities such as the city, state, or Caltrans.
Was the property properly maintained at the time of the accident?
Sometimes, it’s not the road design at all, but the poor maintenance of the road that causes the accident. If the road was unreasonably dangerous, then a claim can also be made against the property owner.
Can an accident be reasonably foreseeable, given the dangerous circumstances?
A defendant can only be held responsible if the accident was a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the conditions or design of the road.
Was there negligence or wrongful conduct involved? Did the party responsible for the road have prior notice of the dangerous condition?
Issues of liability becomes much clearer when a party is found to have knowingly created (or left) a dangerous road condition, a violation of California law.
Was the dangerous condition the primary cause of the accident?
Because California operates under a strict liability rule, even if the road condition was not the main cause, claimants can recover partial compensation for their injuries.
Cutting Corners Cuts Lives
Designing a road is a serious task that cannot be treated lightly. If all of the safety regulations are not met, a particular intersection, bends in the road, or a poorly designed section, can be the cause numerous accidents every year. The damages can be more extensive and long lasting than a reckless driver on the streets. If you suspect the road design may have been a contributing factor to your serious motor vehicle accident, please contact our Estey Bomberger defective road design accident lawyers for a free case evaluation.