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Road Defects – Design & Maintenance

After a car, truck or motorcycle crash, it is imperative to hire a law firm that can “think outside the box.” Most any personal injury lawyer can engage in a simple analysis of what driver was at fault. Very few car accident attorneys can claim success investigating and prosecuting defective design and maintenance claims against state and local governments.

At E. Ryan Bradley, we have successfully sued the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and other local municipalities for roadway defects. You need to ensure the lawyer you hire has the necessary experience with these cases.

What Makes a Road Dangerous?

It might sound odd to call a road “defective” or “unreasonably dangerous” if you think of a road simply as a way to get from one place to another. In fact, local, state and federal agencies are required to design safe roads. This means all roads must comply with the standards set by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (“AASHTO.”) In addition, all roadway signage must comply with the standards set by the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (“MUTCD.”)

After a car accident, our lawyers investigate whether a the road or signage contributed in causing a crash. If it did, we next determine if that road condition complied with all AASHTO and MUTCD standards. If it did not, we will evaluate a cause of action against the responsible entity that created the condition. Many times this is the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC, or sometimes referred to as MoDOT), a County, a local municipality, or the general contractor who built the road.

Does Sovereign Immunity Bar Defective Road Claims?

Ordinarily, sovereign immunity would bar such claims against any public entity. However, Missouri law carves out an exception to this general rule for the defective condition of property, as long as you first comply with strict notice requirements. Failure to adhere to these time deadlines can result in your case being dismissed by the Court. For this reason, it is imperative you contact our law firm right away.

Defective Road and Highway Maintenance Claims

Those charged with the duty to maintain roads also have a duty to maintain basic safety, such as salting or sanding roads. When their failure to do this directly causes or contributes to a crash, they are legally responsible for all injuries and financial costs that result.

Bad roadway maintenance is an even more common problem. Roads may start out safe, but due to neglect of the road itself, its signs and surrounding areas, can become unsafe. Again, this kind of problem is frequently well known in the area, but not addressed until after a tragedy. Maintenance problems that commonly cause preventable car crashes include:

  • Overgrown plants blocking view of the road or a sign
  • Failure to maintain missing or damaged traffic signals
  • Construction hazards and failure to warn about upcoming construction
  • Uncorrected potholes, guardrail or median damage and more
  • Structural problems on older bridges
  • Failure to add signals after population growth

Defective Design of Roads and Highways Claims

In cases with defective roadways, the stretch of road is often notorious in the area for having a lot of crashes. Sometimes, the community has even asked for the problem to be corrected, only to have the requests denied or unreasonably delayed. Examples of bad road design that commonly lead to accidents include:

  • No guardrail next to an overhang
  • Missing or inadequate traffic signal (stop sign or light)
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Blind curves
  • Overly narrow lanes
  • No shoulder or dangerous shoulder
  • Excessive grade
  • Violation of “clear zone” principals

One or more of the drivers involved in defective road crashes may be partly responsible, but that does not mean the State or local municipality is not at fault. Sometimes, a roadway defect can make a crash worse than it would otherwise have been. For example, a missing guardrail may have resulted in an impact many times more forceful that the cars colliding. Missouri law allows more than one partyto be held responsible for damages following a crash. At trial, a jury may allocate fault among many parties.

Our Experience With Defective Roadways is Unparalleled

If you are considering a defective roadway lawsuit, this will require suing a government agency. These cases are extremely complicated. The State of Missouri usually assigns the Attorney General to oversee the case, and often employs outside counsel to assist in the defense. You need to ensure the law firm you hire has successfully handled these types of cases. As the old saying goes, “never bring a knife to a gun fight.”

At E. Ryan Bradley, our law firm has a proven record of success against the State of Missouri on defective road design and maintenance claims. Contact us immediately to ensure you comply with all notice requirements.

The deadlines for doing this can be very short, and if missed, may forever bar your defective roadway lawsuit. To ensure your access to the courts is not taken away by a small mistake, it is best to get in touch with an experienced St. Louis defective road lawyer right away.

E. Ryan Bradley represents clients who were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car, pickup truck, SUV or other traffic accident that was not their fault. This includes accidents caused by bad roadways as well as bad drivers. Frequently, people involved in a bad car wreck suffer serious financial problems on top of their injuries, because their injuries mean high hospital bills as well as time out of work with no paychecks coming in. Our Missouri auto accident attorneys help those clients make ends meet, get the care they need and win fair compensation for their injuries, by holding the at-fault parties financially liable. We never charge a dime to our clients unless and until we win, so there are never out of pocket costs to clients who are already struggling.

If you are suffering from a serious car accident and you would like to talk to an experienced attorney about your options, call E. Ryan Bradley today or you can get a free legal evaluation from us or call 314-400-0000.