Driving can be a liberating and exciting experience, but if you’re not careful, it can also be deadly. The fact is that road hazards, such as potholes, crumbling shoulders and uneven pavement, can all cause accidents, even for the most careful drivers.
Why Road Hazards Occur
Like anything else in life, roads are not perfect. Made mostly of sand, tar and gravel, roads are subject to intense pressure, extremes in weather and temperatures and more. Over time, unmaintained roads will always fall apart, especially in areas with heavy usage. This decomposition may occur in weak spots, or it may occur evenly across the entirety of the roadway. Additionally, markings on roads can fade and disappear entirely over time.
Road signs are also an important part of safe driving, but just like roads themselves, time and weather conditions can cause road signs to fade, warp and fall over. When these events occur, drivers are left in more dangerous situations, as road signs are meant to give important safety information. Road signs are also a common target of theft and vandalism, often resulting in drivers not receiving the information they need in time to prevent an accident.
Who is Responsible?
In the vast majority of cases, roads are maintained by local and state governments as well as the federal government. In some cases, however, roads are maintained by private entities, homeowner’s associations or private citizens. Depending on the location and purpose for the road, it may also be managed by a company. These entities are not only responsible for the construction of roadways, but also for the maintenance. In almost all cases, road signs are built, installed and maintained by governmental agencies, such as the Department of Transportation.
In the Event of an Accident
While accidents have many causes, accidents that occur as the result of a poorly maintained road may result in a personal injury claim. Howell & Christmas injury attorneys of South Carolina tell us that these claims will generally focus on holding responsible the government agency in charge of the road, but they may also focus on a private sector company, roadway technology developer or others. In some cases, a person who steals a road sign or defaces it to the point of being unreadable may also be sued in court for injuries sustained by a driver as the result of the theft or defacement.
If You Own or Maintain a Road
If you’re an individual who is in charge of maintaining a roadway, it’s important to remember that you are responsible for keeping it safe for all drivers. This means conducting routine inspections of your road, completing repairs in a timely fashion, displaying warnings about potential hazards and more. If you’re unsure about how to do this, you may need to partner with a civil engineer or your local Department of Transportation or Department of Public Works.
Finally, as a driver, it’s also important to pay attention at all times while behind the wheel. In many situations, you can avoid potential hazards on the roadway by practicing defensive driving. This means being aware of things like potholes, driving the speed limit and being more cautious during adverse conditions, such as rain and snow. If you have found yourself injured due to a roadway hazard, you may want to seek out the services of a personal injury lawyer.
Shelby Warden is a legal researcher who contributes articles for the Howell & Christmas injury attorneys, located in South Carolina. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a defective condition on a road or highway, the attorneys at Howell and Christmas, LLC can help. Their highway defect attorneys can help you pursue your case against those businesses and entities that are likely responsible for injuries and other damages.