Government Entity Claims for Road Defects


Being a cautious, careful driver who obeys traffic signs and laws does not always guarantee a safe journey. Even when other drivers on the road are also exercising due care, severe and life-threatening accidents still happen. This is because the cause of motor vehicle accidents is not always driver negligence; hazardous road design, poor maintenance, or failure to correct a dangerous road condition can be at fault.

Each year, hazardous and defective road conditions cause motor vehicle accidents, resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. Notwithstanding, police and insurance investigations of accidents rarely consider how a road design defect or an obstructed intersection plays in causing accidents that lead to severe injuries and/or fatalities. That is why consulting with an auto accident attorney experienced in the law governing dangerous road conditions and design defects is vital.

Specifically, an inspection of the roadway and the area must be done immediately after the accident to preserve evidence and to determine whether a design defect, poor maintenance, and/or dangerous road conditions were at fault.

As a Sacramento car accident lawyer since 1982, I have helped many clients bring successful claims against government entities for accidents caused by dangerous road conditions. Some of the examples of hazards that can cause motor vehicle accidents and create liability for the government are:

  • lack of guard rails
  • obstructed intersections
  • lanes made too narrow
  • poorly designed merge lanes
  • inadequate shoulders
  • insufficient warning signs
  • hazardous road construction debris
  • severe pavement defects, including large potholes
California Tort Claims Act

Unfortunately, determining that dangerous road conditions caused the auto accident that resulted in your injuries or took the life of your loved one may be extremely time-consuming. However, suing governmental entities under the California Tort Claims Act, or CTCA, requires that a person file a claim within 180 days, or six months, from the date of their injury or the death of their loved one. The Claims Statute, as this time limit is referred to, is dramatically shorter than that for other personal injury claims, typically two years. Although the stated reason for this shortened time to file a claim is to give the government notice of any defects or dangers it needs to address and to allow it to budget for any settlements and trials, in reality, it enables the government to have a huge advantage over a public that is largely unaware of this time constraint.

This is another reason why consulting with an auto accident attorney experienced in bringing hazardous road claims against government entities will protect your rights. Governmental immunity is difficult to overcome, and filing a claim in time is only the first hurdle. The CTCA comprises numerous intricate procedural and notification requirements, posing potential pitfalls for those lacking legal expertise. Only a seasoned auto accident attorney in Sacramento can guide you through these legal obligations and vigorously advocate for your rights.

If you fear your claim may have lapsed--that 180 days have passed since the time of your injury or loss--there may still be a way to resuscitate your claim. For instance, a late claim can be filed, and if the government entity fails to respond with a notice of untimeliness within 45 days, the defense is waived, and the claim can proceed. Alternatively, an application can be submitted to present a late claim. For these and other ways to recover damages for your losses, speak with a skilled Sacramento personal injury lawyer today.

Editor’s Note: updated 10.26.23 Photo by Max Andrey from Pexels

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