It’s terrifying to suddenly come upon a road defect that you can’t avoid. Whether it’s a deep hole in the road, missing lane markings, or guardrails missing on a sharp curve, a road defect can lead to severe injuries and even death.
When you suffer an injury after a car accident, it’s crucial to hire an experienced law firm. OnderLaw, LLC has handled road defect insurance claims and lawsuits for decades. Our lawyers are leaders in the industry in terms of experience and results.
Car defect cases can be especially complex. Most cases require bringing legal action against a government entity. The procedure is complicated, and there are strict deadlines to follow. With an experienced lawyer from OnderLaw, LLC by your side, you won’t have to worry about any details falling through the cracks. You’ll likely receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
We’re ready to hear your story and start building your case. Contact us for a free consultation today at (314) 963-9000.
What’s a Road Defect?
Most people travel on the same roadways to get around town. You might not think about the negative impact of a defective road. However, hazards routinely exist that could cause someone to lose control of their vehicle and crash into someone else.
Driver error causes a majority of car accidents; however, road defects are just as dangerous. There are a significant number of collisions that occur every year and result in physical harm. Proper maintenance of all roads could easily prevent an accident from occurring.
The more common defects seen on our country’s roadways include:
- Inadequate signage
- Poor drainage system
- Faded or missing lane markings
- Overgrown vegetation
- Defective materials
- Broken or malfunctioning stoplights
- Misplaced road signs
- Dangerous intersections
- Shoulder drop-offs
- Lack of necessary guardrails
- Uneven pavement
- Lack of or inadequate lighting
Any one of these road defects can surprise a driver, and result in a life-threatening crash or high-speed collision.
The Location of Your Accident Could Effect Your Claim
It’s tough to pursue legal action when a road defect leads to a car accident. Public roads are especially tricky because you must comply with a strict legal process. There are entities you have to notify of your intention to file a claim. You also need to know the deadline for filing an injury claim.
If you believe your injury happened because of a defective roadway, you have to follow Missouri notice requirements. If you don’t adhere to the deadlines or provide proper notice to the responsible entity, your case could get dismissed.
Road Defects and Highway Maintenance
There are companies responsible for maintaining roadways and ensuring the safety of all motorists. Failing to perform primary duties, such as salting or sanding icy roads, can lead to liability for the injured party’s expenses.
Roads are generally safe when they’re first constructed. Over time, neglect plays a part in the road becoming dangerous. The road itself, surrounding areas, and signs could wear or develop damage. Maintenance problems that usually cause auto accidents include:
- Overgrown trees, plants, or shrubs that block the view of a road or street sign
- Damaged or missing traffic signals
- Construction hazards without proper signs or cones
- Potholes, guardrail damage, or median problems left unfixed
- Structural issues on old structures, such as bridges
- Improper traffic signals to match population growth
Defective Road Design
Some roads are defective because of their design. In most cities, there are certain areas where a lot of accidents occur. In most situations, residents consistently demand a solution to the problem. However, the requests get denied or delayed and lead to additional crashes.
Poor road designs that most often lead to accidents include:
- Lack of a guardrail next to an overhang
- Missing or inadequate stop sign or traffic light
- Poor lighting
- Narrow lanes
- Blind curves
- Lack of or dangerous shoulder
Reasonable Care by a Government Entity
The critical component in any road defect case is whether or not a government entity held a duty to prevent damages from an accident. Although public entities must maintain their roadways, the court system applies a standard called reasonable care.
Reasonable care generally depends on the circumstances surrounding a particular road and the accident that occurred on it. A judge or insurance adjuster will need to determine if the entity exercised reasonable care in preventing injury to a driver or passenger.
An example of reasonable care is if an entity responsible for repairing potholes knew of one’s existence for months but failed to fix it. As a result, a car crash occurred that caused bodily harm. A judge could find that the entity should have exercised reasonable care to report and fix the pothole promptly.
Evaluating reasonable care related to road defects involves specific federal and local regulations. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) set standards regarding all roadways throughout the country. In Missouri, the Missouri Standard Specification for Highway Construction governs the design, construction, and maintenance of its state’s roads.
To prove a government entity caused your accident, you must show that the following exists:
- The entity had reasonable care to maintain the defective road
- The entity breached its duty of reasonable care
- The breach of duty led to physical harm
Sovereign Immunity: What it is and How it Could Affect You
Road defect cases are unique because of the existence of sovereign immunity. Under this doctrine, private parties are not allowed to sue a government entity, such as the city, county, or state. You can’t file a lawsuit against any of those entities unless there’s a specific law that permits legal action.
Lawsuits against private entities are entirely different. For example, if you get hurt in a grocery store because of improper maintenance, you could file a lawsuit against the owner. However, if you get injured at a post office, which is owned and operated by the federal government, you couldn’t seek financial compensation from a lawsuit.
How Do I Pursue Compensation from a Government Entity?
There’s a Missouri statute related to roadway defects and maintenance issues. An injured person can file a lawsuit against the state, Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission, or other governmental entity if their attorney can prove the following:
- The injury resulted from a dangerous condition;
- The condition caused a risk of the injury in question; and
- An employee of the entity created the dangerous condition, or the entity received notice of the condition with sufficient time to fix it.
Hiring an attorney from OnderLaw, LLC is necessary to prove your case. If you’re inexperienced, you won’t know what your rights are or how to obtain the right evidence. When you hire us, we will locate the following:
- Police reports from the crash
- Photos of the defective roadway
- Witness statements
- Your medical records
- Documentation of the entity’s maintenance and repair schedules
- Examples of previous auto accidents from the same defect
- Vehicle damage estimates and repair bills
Fighting with a governmental entity is time-consuming. There are many hoops we have to jump through and statutes to consider. If you try to handle your case alone, you’ll most likely lose. That’s why you must seek legal representation immediately after your car wreck.
Compensation for Your Injury
Depending on the extent of your injuries and the necessary treatment to recover, you could receive compensation for your expenses. Getting injured in a traffic accident is expensive. You have doctors’ appointments, a car to repair, and can’t perform your job-related duties. Your total costs could reach thousands of dollars.
Damages are your losses caused by the accident and injury. Medical expenses and physical suffering contribute to the amount you could receive. The damages you could claim in Missouri include:
- Hospital bills
- Costs related to physical therapy and other treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Future earning capacity
- Punitive damages
When reviewing the evidence from any road defect case, the following details are essential:
- The seriousness of the injury
- The time needed to complete treatment
- If a permanent disability exists
- Any future treatment necessary
- Time away from work because of the injury
- Negative impact on the injured person’s lifestyle
- Effects of the car accident on the victim’s immediate family
What Sets Us Apart
We emphasize the importance of client satisfaction. We believe in treating our clients like family. Our one-on-one approach ensures you received personalized care. We understand the steep road ahead and want to make the process as easy as possible for you.
We’re proud of the community we live in and strive to make it a better place. We actively participate in local and national fundraisers that keep people safe. OnderLaw, LLC supports organizations, such as Parents for Window Blind Safety, Toys for Tots, and St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness.
Our work earned us the highest AV rating in the Martindale-Hubbell directory. The legal organization includes lawyers who evaluate their peers and provide a rating based on their accomplishments. We also received recognition from various other organizations, including SuperLawyers and Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
How Much Are Legal Fees?
Our attorneys take all road defect cases on a contingency fee basis. That means you won’t have to pay any upfront fees or costs. We don’t get paid unless you get paid. While your case is ongoing, we won’t expect you to make payments for phone calls, office visits, or the collection of evidence. A percentage of your settlement gets taken out for our legal fees. If we don’t resolve your case, you won’t have to pay us.
How to Hire OnderLaw, LLC to Represent You
Call (314) 963-9000 to schedule an initial consultation. It’s free, so there’s no risk to meet with us and discuss your case. We’ll review the information regarding the road defect and the injuries you sustained. If you decide you want to pursue compensation, we’ll begin working on your case immediately.