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Holding Responsible Party Accountable for Road Hazard Crashes

Posted on July 09, 2020
Holding Responsible Party Accountable for Road Hazard Crashes

While it can be somewhat easier to determine liability in many car accidents, it can be more of a challenge if road hazards are involved. If a vehicle is damaged because of certain road hazards such as potholes or other hazards, the government and other parties may be responsible.

Figuring Out Responsibility in Road Hazard Accidents

Liability in most car accidents can be relatively easy to determine, but other accidents may involve certain road hazards in lieu of another driver, including:

  • Potholes
  • Construction zones
  • Snowy or icy conditions
  • Oil and chip debris
  • Shoulder drop-off
  • Wet pavement

The government responsible for maintaining the road may be liable in many cases, whether it’s the city, state, or county government. The common argument is that the government is responsible for maintenance and, subsequently, is responsible for any damages that take place due to poor maintenance. However, liability can be more unclear depending on the condition of the road and what is deemed “reasonably” safe.

In Nevada, governments are given a reasonable amount of time to identify and address certain road hazards. Governments normally discover hazardous road conditions if individuals formally report them or through regularly scheduled road surveys. If the government is unaware of a particular hazard, it typically avoids responsibility provided it hasn’t been around long enough for the government to discover it within a reasonable amount of time. On the other hand, if a hazard has been present long enough for the government to have been expected to discover it, the government may be liable.

Once the government discovers a hazard, the state typically gives it a certain amount of time to repair it. While waiting for services to be completed as scheduled, accidents may occur during this time, in which case the government may not be liable for damages.

Filing a Claim

To build a successful case against the government, accident victims will need to prove two things:

  • That the government was aware of the road condition or should have been aware of it
  • That the government, once aware of the condition, failed to repair it within a reasonable amount of time

Certain evidence such as survey records and notices that the government received regarding the condition will be required to support a case. Through the gathering and presentation of evidence in a claim, victims may be able to prove that the government was responsible for damages resulting from road hazard crashes.