Can I Sue For By Bad Road Conditions Causing Accident?

Yes, when a city failed to properly maintain a poor or bad road condition that caused an accident, the injured driver can sue the city for the injury.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Have a quick question? I answered nearly 1500 FAQs.


Under California Government Code Section 835, a city is liable for injury caused by a bad road condition if the road was in a dangerous condition at the time of accident causing injury. Many severe road accidents are due to the poor condition of roads and highways. About one-third of road accidents in the USA are due to bad road conditions. Around two million people get injured, and 22000 people lose their lives yearly.

Although the city government has special funds and departments for designing, building, and maintaining roads, it is not convenient to track the condition of every single street.

When you are injured or have any other kind of damage due to a crash that inadequate conditions on the road caused, you deserve compensation for your loss. In this article, our personal injury lawyer Los Angeles car drivers trust discusses suing a city for poor or bad road conditions that caused an accident.

Poor road condition

Speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving are common causes of accidents. Poor road conditions also significantly contribute to massive car accidents yearly.

Typical issues with roads that can result in an accident:

  • Objects in the road
  • Signs that are hidden, broken, or lost
  • Guardrails that are missing or inadequate
  • Crack in the pavement or potholes
  • Poor traffic management around construction zones
  • Faded paint, like missing the center or edge marks
  • Winter roads that have not been treated
  • Drops off shoulders on the road

Create and Gather Evidence

If you already know what to do after you were involved in a crash that inadequate road conditions caused, it would be easy for you to proceed with the compensation claim. It doesn’t matter if it was a single-car or a multiple-car accident.

  • Call 911: The first thing you should do when you get involved in a car accident is call 911. Give your location to the dispatcher, informing them of the injuries caused by the crash. Also, report if you think the other driver might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • If you can, gather all the crucial evidence from the accident scene. If you are not in good physical shape after the crash, have someone with you collect information.
  • Medical Care: Inform the paramedic team about every injury you may have, no matter how small, and cooperate with them. If the paramedic team insists on transferring you to a hospital, don’t refuse and let them move you to a hospital. If you are not transferred to the ER directly from the accident scene, go to a doctor for your complete medical checkup. This is because if you refuse or delay the medical treatment process or don’t cooperate with the paramedics, this can be used against your compensation claim. The adjuster can take it as an argument that your wounds are not directly related to an accident; hence, the lawsuit you filed is undermined.
  • Statement of Witnesses: It may be possible that the witnesses may not have enough time to appear in front of the investigating officer on his interview call. It is a fact that witness reports can play a crucial role in your claim process. So, request the witnesses to give their information in written form about what they saw at the accident site. It would be tremendous points in your favor if some witnesses saw how the accident occurred due to the road’s hazardous condition. Ask the witness to include the date and their signature on the statement.
  • Photos and Videos: Pictures are solid evidence because they don’t lie. If you are physically able, take as many photos as you can. If you are not, have someone else with you take the photos. Try photographing the poor condition of the road and the destroyed vehicles from many different angles. Try to date stamp the pictures. Also, make sure to clarify through pictures the place of the accident and the pothole or another road hazard that resulted in an accident because the road may get repaired before the settlement.
  • Information Exchange: If some other driver was part of the accident, note down their name, information about their insurance, and contact information. Also, record the details of their car.
  • Medical Bill and record: Medical records have nothing to do with proving the cause of the accident. But it will show that the injuries incurred by you are solely due to the crash. So, take copies of reports, bills from medical facilities, and the provider’s record. Also, count the costs from your pocket and record your mileage spent on the medical visits. These medical bills will significantly help the calculation of the injury compensation amount.
  • Lost Wages: Request the employer to provide you a statement of lost pay and the vacations required to recover from your injuries fully.
  • Take Notes: Take notes of everything you remember about the incident. How did you get to know the cause of the crash? Also, make notes about your pain levels, injuries, and physical disabilities you had to face due to your injuries.
  • Records of Surveys: The city government often surveys to discover roads’ adverse conditions. It will be of great help if you prove that your accident happened due to one of these surveys resulting in a hazard. To get the survey results, you can contact the office of the county commissioner or the Department of Transportation.

File accident injury claim

Every case of road accident is individual. There are various ways to claim compensation from different sources.

Your Car Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance carrier even if some other reason causes the accident and you are not responsible. There is a term used in the contract, “Notice Clause.” This clause means that you will report any accident and cooperate in investigating the crash.

The wording of the notice clause is as given below:

  • “Insured agrees to notify the insurer of any accidents and, after that, comply with all information, assistance, and cooperation which the insurer reasonably requests, and agrees that in the event of a claim, the insurer and the insured will do nothing that shall prejudice the insurer’s position….”

If you live in a city with no-fault insurance, you must ask your insurance company to pay for personal injuries. Med pay and Personal Injury Protection involve paying all expenses due to medical damages, lost wages, and out-of-pocket costs. Keep in mind the compensation for suffering and pain is not included.

In no-fault cities, you can claim compensation from the other driver if you are severely injured or your expenses exceed your PIP limit.

The insurance company of the at-fault Driver: You are involved in a collision where the cause is another driver’s negligence, but there were also poor conditions on the road. You must submit the compensation claim to the other driver’s insurance carrier.

Before this claim, you have to show proof that:

  • The driver’s actions were negligent
  • The direct or indirect fault of the crash is the negligence of the driver
  • Your injury and damages are a result of the crash
  • The liability of damages is on the driver

A Third-Party Was Negligent: What if a third party’s negligent actions caused poor road conditions? You must claim compensation for losses and damages to that third party if their actions caused an accident. It is not the government’s fault.

  • For example, your car crashed into a guardrail after slipping from loose gravel on the road. A construction truck spilled the gravel while traveling to a construction site in the nearby vicinity. You can file a compensation claim with the construction company’s insurance in such a case.

Governmental Agencies: Most roads fall under the local government’s responsibility, and roads with hazards to traffic may fall under these premises. Some main roads and highways are under the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Claim against the government

You have to prove the following things for a successful claim against the government:

  • The road on which the accident happened is the responsibility of the governmental agency
  • The condition of the street was hazardous when the accident took place
  • The cause of the crash is a dangerous road
  • The governmental agency responsible for the street must know about the hazardous condition of the road that can result in a collision.
  • The governmental agency could not repair the hazardous condition of the road in time

Legal research

Visit the federal courthouse and study lawsuits filed against the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration. Specifically, find the cases of road quality in the region where your accident occurred.

Visit the county clerk’s office and study lawsuits against the local city government or private construction companies about road design, construction, and maintenance. Specifically, find the cases more closely related to your accidents and see what evidence the plaintiff used and how much compensation was approved.

Contact the office of the attorney general of the state and ask for a copy of the advisory opinion given to the local or state governmental agencies related to road conditions and hazards.

Search online about the lawsuits against government agencies and, more specifically, the claim notices issued to governmental agencies, hearings of the court, or lawsuits related to road accidents.

Remember that the accident victim has an absolute right to seek the consultation of some professional personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can manage the compensation claim, filing of a claim, and the value of the fair amount for the injury compensation. They can also file a lawsuit against a governmental agency if required.

Filing claim notice

If you plan to file a claim against the governmental agency, you will start by filing a claim notice that the governmental agency specifies for injury compensation.

This notice formally notifies the government that you have filed a claim. If you want to file a lawsuit against multiple governmental agencies, file a separate claim notice against each agency.

Fill in the claim notice form accurately to avoid rejection and get it processed quickly.

The details of the accident must be entered in the claim form. Details include the location, time, and date of the accident, along with a complete explanation of designing, constructing, and maintaining the road due to which the accident occurred.

The claim form must contain the whole list of injuries and damages incurred to you by the collision, along with suitable proof that the accident occurred due to the negligent behavior of a governmental agency.

After the filing of your claim, the governmental agency reviews it. They decide whether to reject the claim or proceed further for the administrative hearing. This is where the victim can present their case.

If the claim is rejected in this hearing, the victim can appeal administratively.

If the administrative appeal is rejected, the only way to file the compensation claim is to sue the governmental agency whose negligence resulted in your accident.

Hire an attorney

It is not advisable to seek an attorney consultation and file the claim with the governmental agency if PIP and Med pay recovery are enough to compensate for your injuries and losses. It will be a waste of time if you still go after the governmental agency and spend money on the attorney’s consultation.

If the coverage provided by the auto insurance company is not enough for the compensation of your injuries and losses, you can rely on health insurance. After that, you will have to deal with deductibles.

Severe injuries like Traumatic Brain Injuries, spinal cord damage, or broken bones involve many complex claims. If you are severely injured, you can have an attorney who will get the available compensation for you. It will be the attorney’s duty to find all payment sources to get the maximum amount.

A professional personal injury attorney will get compensation from:

  • The driver partially caused the accident despite poor road conditions.
  • The third party due to which hazard created on-road and caused an accident
  • The governmental agency whose negligent behavior caused the accident

The attorney will deal with all the sources of compensation if there are multiple reasons behind the accident cause.

So, don’t wait if you are injured in a road accident due to poor road conditions. Find a professional personal injury attorney and file the compensation claim before the time limit.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

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