Highway Design Defects

New York City Highway Defects Lawyers

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 12.6% of New York auto accidents were caused by some sort of road defect in 2013. Such defects include:

  • Improper or inadequate lane markings
  • Debris or obstructions on the road
  • Defective pavement
  • Slippery pavement
  • Defective or improper shoulders
  • Obstructed views
  • Inoperable traffic control devices

Regardless of the cause of the auto accident, the results can be devastating to the victims and their families. If you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident involving a highway defect, you need to contact an attorney experienced in handling personal injury claims against government agencies. Time is limited for you to bring a claim.

The Government Has a Duty to Keep Roads Safe

Municipalities owe motorists and pedestrians a “non-delegable” duty to keep its streets and highways in a reasonably safe condition. Essentially, the municipality must construct and maintain its highways in a reasonably safe condition, taking into account such factors as terrain, traffic conditions, and fiscal practicality. This includes traffic safety design decisions such as guardrails, signage, and infrastructure improvements.

If the government breaches its duty to keep the highways safe, victims of injuries resulting from that breach may make claims for damages.

Types of Injury-Causing Breaches

The government may breach its duty to keep the streets and highways in a reasonably safe condition in a number of ways. These may include:

  • Debris/Obstructions – failing to remove fallen trees and limbs in the roadway, if actual or constructive notice is present.
  • Obstructions – failing to trim the growth of foliage, brush, or trees within the highway’s right-of-way to assure the visibility of signs and other traffic.
  • Defective Shoulders – failing to maintain a shoulder in a reasonably safe condition for the foreseeable uses, including driver negligence.
  • Defective guardrail abutments – installing defective guardrails or failing to install necessary guardrails, the presence or absence of which are a substantial factor in a victim’s injuries.

Other common defects include uneven sidewalks, broken sidewalks, potholes, poor drainage, and improperly plowed roads.

You Need an Attorney Knowledgeable in Municipality Law

In some cases, victims may not make claims against the government for certain defects because of a concept called qualified immunity. Qualified Immunity protects certain government officials under certain circumstances. It is not meant to provide absolute protection for anything a government employee might or might not do. You need a personal injury lawyer experienced in municipality law to help you navigate the qualified immunity maze.

Timelines for Filing Claims Against the Government Are Short

There are certain procedures that have been established that a victim must follow before suing a municipality for damages. The first thing that must be done is to serve the municipality with a notice of claim within the 90-day period following the accident. In the case of a wrongful death claim, the time to serve the notice of claim is 90 days after an estate representative has been appointed.

This pre-lawsuit notice of claim gives the municipality time to investigate while the evidence is still fresh. It is also a period when the victim must answer questions asked by the municipality under oath.

There are exceptions to the 90-day notice of claim, so do not write off your chances of making a claim if you determine that the 90-day period has passed. Talk to a personal injury attorney experienced in municipality law immediately.

After the notice of claim is served on the municipality, if the claim has been denied, the victim must file a lawsuit within 1 year and 90 days from the date of the accident. In the case of a wrongful death claim, the time is extended to 2 years from the date of death.

As you can see, time is truly of the essence when dealing with government claims. This is why it is crucial to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side as quickly as possible.

Protecting Your Rights

If you have been injured in an accident involving defective highways, it is critical to collect as much information as you can. This may start right after the accident, if the victim is conscious and able. Key steps that must be taken to protect your rights include:

  1. Seek necessary medical attention
  2. Obtain a police report
  3. Gather witness information
  4. Take photographs of everything, including the road, your vehicle, and your injuries
  5. Keep an accident diary of your recollections
  6. Do not make statements to insurance companies or investigators without talking with an attorney first.

Obtain Trusted Representation

If you are the victim of injuries resulting from highway defects, you need the New York lawyers of Schwartzapfel® Lawyers, P.C. at your side. Thousands of others have trusted them to help them through this difficult time. With decades of experience and a track record for success, our attorneys are well prepared to handle your case, stand up for your rights, and deliver the justice you deserve. Call us at 1-877-737-4806 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you.

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