Despite the fact that most auto accidents are caused by a negligent driver, there are many other causes of accidents that are just as common. Poor road conditions and weather conditions are frequent causes of auto accidents. Examples of dangerous road conditions include potholes, uneven expansion joints, and debris on the roadway. A deep hole in the middle of a roadway can cause serious auto accidents, especially on interstates. Weather conditions can also cause accidents, including winter weather, such as snow and ice. If uncleared snow or unsalted roads cause an accident, you may be able to bring a claim against the state or municipal government. Let our Joplin car accident attorney explain how these claims work.
Dangerous road conditions
While driver error is a major cause of auto accidents, there are other factors that play a substantial role in causing auto accidents, as well. Roadway defects and engineering and design problems attribute to auto accidents as well. Furthermore, many hazardous road conditions can make, what would have been a minor crash, a much more serious event. Failure to properly maintain roadways is another common cause.
Proving a theory of liability
The simple fact that the other person was driving the car that hit yours, doesn’t automatically make that person at-fault for the resulting auto accident. In some situations, the other driver will try to shift some, if not all, of the blame on you. For example, there are defenses known as contributory negligence of assumption of risk, which may create a real issue of liability in your case. If those defenses are raised, the resolution of your case may be further delayed. It is important to have as much evidence as you can to support your theory of liability, including witness testimony, if possible.
Who is responsible for clearing icy or snowy roads?
One of the key elements to proving a car accident claim is determining who is at fault, which means establishing all of the parties that are related to or involved in the accident. When several vehicles are involved, then the negligence of any of those drivers may be an issue. However, if someone slides or skids on the roadway because of weather conditions have made the roadway dangerous, the government entity responsible for that roadway may be to blame.
Government responsibility for interstates and highways
Responsibility for dangerous conditions on public roadways will potentially lie with the government that maintains those roadways. Which government agency depends on where the road is located. Interstates are typically maintained by the state where that section of the interstate is located. This means if you are injured in a car accident on I-29 or I-44 in Missouri, for instance, the Missouri Department of Transportation would be responsible if it failing to clear snow or ice from the road or lay down salt.
On the other hand, within a city or town, the roadways are maintained by the city or municipality where they are located. County roads are maintained by counties. Determining the appropriate entity to file a claim against, the entity that should have plowed the road, is something a Joplin car accident attorney can help you figure out.
Claims against the state require administrative action first
As with nearly legal claims against a governmental entity, a negligence claim against the state Department of Transportation requires the claimants file an administrative claim first before a lawsuit can be filed in court. This is known as exhausting administrative remedies. If this step is not taken before a lawsuit is filed, the court is likely to dismiss the claim.
The reason for exhausting administrative remedies
The purpose of the administrative remedies requirement is to minimize the burden on courts by possibly resolving some disputes within the appropriate administrative agency. The agency will typically require that the claimant file a petition and attend a hearing where evidence of the claim is submitted to the agency officials. If necessary, an appeal can also be filed with the agency, if the claimant is not satisfied with the decision.
Is the exhaustion of administrative remedies always required?
There are a few exceptions to the administrative remedies requirement. For instance, the requirement can be waived if the available administrative remedy is clearly inadequate. Another exception may be available if the administrative procedures themselves would lead to an unreasonable delay, or if the alleged conduct clearly exceeded the scope of the agency’s authority. You should discuss your situation with your motorcycle accident attorney if you have any questions about the administrative process so that you can be sure to preserve your legal rights.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.