Providence Attorneys for Accidents Due to Faulty Road Design
It is no secret that Rhode Island has bad roads. In 2021, over 860 miles of our state highways were rated to be in “poor” condition, out of 1,100 total miles, a depressing 78 percent worth of potholes, unpaved shoulders, and crumbling bridges. Things are gradually improving in some places, but overall, the roads are pummeling your car to bits.
What does this mean if you are in an accident because the other driver was going too fast, hit an axle-deep pothole, and spun out of control? More than you might expect. At the Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, Accident & Injury Lawyers, Ltd., our Providence car accident attorneys can tell you how faulty road design and maintenance can be just as responsible for your accident as the other driver’s negligence. Contact us at (401) 751-8855 if you’ve been injured in an accident, and let us review your case.
What Is Faulty Road Design?
Roads are built and designed in the same way as an office building or a house. They must be carefully graded to be level, have adequate drainage, and slope properly from the center, or “crown.” Some roads must curve slightly, or bank, to follow the contours of the land, and roadways near the ocean must have roadbeds that can flex with incoming and outgoing tides.
Part of the plan must include regular inspection and maintenance. Just like skyscrapers and houses, roads need to be inspected for damage and repaired regularly. Except in sinkhole-prone areas like Florida, potholes do not spontaneously appear three feet deep in the center of a roadway. That is a combination of poor design and poor maintenance.
Maintenance can cause its own road hazards. Construction equipment is large and heavy and can damage the roadway itself. Gravel grinds down the asphalt unless it’s cleared away. Rocks used to lay the roadbed are another hazard. If the barriers that keep traffic away from the construction site are not laid out properly, they become just another road hazard.
How Does This Lead to Accidents?
Depending on where and how the road is placed, the design can cause accidents in numerous ways.
- Poor grading and drainage. If the road has not been graded properly so that water drains away from the center towards the drains, it will be slippery when it rains and icy in the winter. This creates prime conditions for multi-car collisions as vehicles slide into one another. If the drains themselves are badly spaced or allowed to clog, the roads become huge pools of water, leading to stalls and eventually more accidents.
- Blind curves and badly placed intersections. In hilly terrain, some blind curves are unavoidable. They should be well marked and spaced as widely as possible. Intersections on hills or curves should be avoided.
- Worn or missing lane markers, reflectors, or signs. It can be difficult to stay in your lane if you don’t know where it is. Paint wears away, and reflectors become damaged or broken. If these are not repaired or replaced in a timely manner, they can contribute to accidents.
- Missing or misplaced guardrails, stanchions, and barricades. Guardrails are intended to keep you from going off the road. Barricades should be placed where they can stop your car from hitting the wall. If these things are not where they should be, an accident can result, and it can be worse than it should have been.
Why Is This Important?
Rhode Island follows the “pure comparative negligence” rule when determining fault and who can recover compensation after an accident. This means that fault is apportioned according to the percentage of how much the individual or entity is determined to be responsible for the accident.
This is important when both parties are held to be partially responsible for an accident, which often happens in car accidents. If you are hit by another car, but you were not able to swerve out of the way because a foot-deep pothole caught your wheel and kept you from turning, then the amount of your fault could be lessened depending on how much fault is assigned to those responsible for the pothole. The other driver’s fault could be 50 percent, yours might be only 20 percent, and the remainder the fault of those responsible for the road.
Who Is Liable for the Road?
If the road was poorly designed, built, or maintained, it becomes the responsibility of the government agency that oversees that section of road. For example, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation oversees the state highway infrastructure and other state-owned systems. County and city roadways are the responsibility of their townships.
Rhode Island requires plaintiffs to file a Notice of Intent before they can bring a legal action against them. Rhode Island code § 45-15-9 states that anyone injured on a road or bridge who plans to bring an action against the city or state for their injury must file a notice within 60 days. They then have three years to bring their lawsuit.
What Do You Do Next?
If you believe you have been injured due to poor design or maintenance of a road, it is important that you document the condition you believe led to your injury. Photos of the scene and close-ups of the condition itself will be essential to making your case. If the condition is something transitory, such as a blocked drain, you should try to show the blockage or poor drainage at the time of the accident itself so that it is clear the road played a part in the accident.
How We Can Help
Deciding whether to sue the state is a difficult decision to make in a short time. Before making any legal decision following an accident, you should consult a legal professional. At the Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, Accident & Injury Lawyers, Ltd., we know about the conditions of Rhode Island highways. Our attorneys know how to investigate the details of the accident and help present your case to show that the road contributed to the accident.
If you have been injured in an accident that you believe was caused by the condition of the road, or that the road contributed to in any way, contact the attorneys of the Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, Accident & Injury Lawyers, Ltd. at (401) 751-8855 right away. You don’t have much time to make your case, and we need to begin investigating right away.