Government Liability for Dangerous Roads | Colombo Law

It’s no secret that the roads in West Virginia are often dangerous. Due to the mountainous terrain on which many of them were paved, they can be steep, winding, narrow, and hazardous.

In addition, we have a high number of rural roads, where most of our fatal accidents happen. When you add in inclement weather, distracted drivers, and other dangerous conditions, it’s no wonder that West Virginia’s roads are some of the most dangerous in the country.

However, in many cases, accidents are avoidable. While that certainly speaks to the dangers of distracted driving, drunk driving, and other negligent behaviors, it also speaks to the conditions of our roads.

In some cases, unfortunately, the roads themselves are simply not safe, regardless of whether or not another vehicle – or inclement weather – is present.

In this article, we take a closer look at what causes dangerous roads, how they lead to accidents, and who is responsible for these accidents when they occur.

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident due to dangerous roads in West Virginia, it’s important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney who can evaluate your case and fight for your right to compensation. Contact Colombo Law today for a free consultation.

What Makes the Roads in West Virginia Dangerous?

Dangerous road conditions fall into three main categories: poor road design, failed maintenance, and inadequate warnings of hazardous conditions.

Let’s take a closer look at each:

  • Poor design: Designing roads around the West Virginia terrain is a difficult task. Steep hills, sharp turns, and low visibility are often unavoidable. However, when a particular design choice has led to multiple accidents and the government agency responsible for the safety of our roads has not addressed the design flaw, the agency may be liable for subsequent accidents and injuries.
  • Failed maintenance: The government also has a duty to keep roads in reasonably safe condition. While the agency may not be aware of a particular hazard, such as a pothole, oil spill, or a shoulder drop-off, workers should respond in a timely manner to notices and fix the hazard.
  • Failure to warn: Once the government is made aware of a hazard, even if road crews are unable to repair it immediately, they should take lengths to warn drivers of the hazard and, if necessary, divert traffic around it. The same is true of safely routing traffic around construction zones. If signage is missing, inadequate, broken, or confusing, it may mean that a government agency and/or a private construction company was negligent in its duties.

The trucking industry is another significant factor in West Virginia car accidents. Semi trucks are a common sight on rural roads, sometimes on stretches of road that are not designed for the weight of an 18-wheeler. In addition to increasing the risk of truck accidents, commercial vehicle traffic accelerates the damage to roads, increasing the danger for all drivers.

Types of Accidents Caused by Dangerous Roads

Crashes caused by dangerous roads are unique in that they are most often single-vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous.

When a driver encounters a dangerous road, whether it be a sharp turn without appropriate warnings or pooling water caused by improper drainage, the surprise caused by the condition can lead to serious accidents. Again, this speaks to the importance of proper warnings. Even if a condition is not repaired, drivers need to be able to prepare themselves for unsafe conditions that could lead to accidents.

Determining Liability for an Accident Caused by Road Hazards

In any accident claim, the question of liability always comes down to three main factors: duty, negligence, and causality.

That is:

  • Who had a duty to keep a particular area or condition safe, and what reasonable behaviors should be involved in upholding that duty?
  • Did the party or parties neglect that duty?
  • Did the neglect of that duty directly lead to the accident and subsequent damages?

In most cases, when we’re talking about dangerous roads, the government is the party most likely to be liable, particularly the West Virginia Division of Highways (which is responsible for 95% of West Virginia’s roads).

Bringing a lawsuit against the government is not easy. Thorough investigation is crucial for establishing the negligence of a government entity. Suing the government also involves special procedures that an experienced attorney can help you navigate.

Contact a Lawyer If You Are Injured in a Dangerous Road Accident

At Colombo Law, we are passionate, determined advocates for clients throughout West Virginia who have suffered injury through no fault of their own. We have handled all types of vehicle accident cases, with a long track record of successful results, giving us a deep understanding of how these types of cases work in West Virginia.

If you have been involved in an accident caused by a dangerous road condition, please call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today for a free consultation. Our accident lawyers serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.

by Colombo Law
Last updated on - Originally published on