Posts Tagged ‘negligence’

Who Is Liable When Poor Road Conditions Cause a Car Accident?

When two or more vehicles are involved in a car accident in Tucson, it is fairly simple to determine liability and who is responsible for paying for damages. However, when a driver hits a pothole, pops a tire, swerves into oncoming traffic, and runs head first into an oncoming vehicle, is the accident really the driver’s fault, or is it the pothole’s fault? Poor road conditions can cause any number of accidents, ranging from popped tires to full-on collisions and pileups. Because of this, it is the job of the Arizona government to maintain roadways and keep them relatively safe (Tucson.com). But where does the State’s liability begin, and where does it end? Arizona’s Liability for Poor Road Conditions According to ARS 12-820.03, neither a public entity nor its employers shall be held liable for any injuries sustained as a result of a poor plan or design for road construction, maintenance, or improvement to highways, roads, streets, bridges, or rights-of-way if the plan was prepared in accordance with the most up-to-date engineering and design standards. However, the State may be liable if it fails to provide adequate warning to drivers of road construction or any other dangerous hazards that lay ahead. Poor road conditions, or “dangerous hazards,” may include:
  • Confusing, damaged, or missing signs;
  • Unsalted or unplowed roads during the winter time;
  • Blind curves and poorly banked roads;
  • Missing or poorly placed traffic signals;
  • Uneven shoulders or improperly graded curves;
  • Vision obstructions, such as poor landscaping;
  • Overly bright street lights;
  • Unclear or missing road markings;
  • Wrong road materials;
  • Low bridges or incorrect measurement markings; and
  • Broken guardrails.
It is important to note that while the state and city governments are responsible for maintaining safe road conditions, they can and do subcontract out a majority of the roadwork. In the event that they do, both the government agency and the agency that was hired to build or maintain the roads may be held liable. Bringing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Government Agency It can be extremely difficult to bring a claim against the government, which is why we recommend hiring a Tucson personal injury lawyer to help you. At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, our experienced attorneys understand the laws protecting government entities, and regularly help clients navigate those laws so that may file a claim and achieve a successful outcome despite any immunity that the government agency should have. When it comes to personal injuries sustained as a result of poor road conditions, most government agencies have immunity from lawsuits, meaning that they cannot be sued. However, those same agencies have exceptions to their immunity laws, and allow themselves to be sued if certain conditions are met. Most states and cities consider gross negligence to be an exception. In order to prove that your accident was the result of gross negligence, you must be able to submit evidence proving the following:
  • The roadway hazard was unreasonably dangerous and posed an unreasonable risk of harm;
  • It was obvious that the roadway hazard would lead to an accident;
  • The city or state government agency was informed of this hazard, or had prior knowledge of it and still failed to remedy it; and
  • The defect or hazard was the direct cause of the accident.
If you can prove each of the above following circumstances, you may have a successful personal injury claim on your hands. However, because you are dealing with a government agency, you must adhere to strict statutes of limitations, which, according to ARS 13.5.1.3, is 180 days after “the cause of action accrues.” Or in other words, “when the plaintiff discovers or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered that he or she has been injured by a particular defendant’s negligent conduct.” Additionally, filing a claim against a government entity requires much more diligence and jumping through hoops than filing a typical personal injury claim in Tucson. For instance, a notice-of-claim must be hand-delivered to the proper recipient, be it an employee, officer, group, or body (ARS 13.5.1.2). Consult a Tucson Personal Injury Attorney At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, we can help you file a successful claim against the state or government agency that was responsible for your car accident and personal injury. Our Tucson car accident attorneys can review your case and determine what evidence is necessary to prove gross negligence by the state, as well as adhere to the stringent guidelines for suing a government agency. If you have recently been involved in a car accident that was the direct result of poor road conditions, contact our Tucson personal injury law firm at 520-797-1041 to schedule a private consultation today.

Understanding Your Rights as the Passenger of the At-Fault Vehicle

Everyone understands what they need to do when they are the driver of a vehicle that was either hit by or that hit someone else, but not many people are sure where they stand as the passenger of a vehicle—especially if they are the passenger of the at-fault vehicle. Does being in the car with the at-fault driver automatically put them in a position of liability? If they suffered injuries from the accident as well, do they just have to live with them, or can they receive just compensation too? If they seek damages, against whom should they file a personal injury claim? If you were the passenger of the at-fault vehicle, understanding your rights can be difficult. At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, we can help you navigate these murky waters, and determine if and how you should file a personal injury claim. The Driver Has a Duty of Care to His or Her Passenger The driver of any motor vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft assumes an automatic obligation to drive carefully and safely, to prevent hitting other vehicles and obstacles in the road, and to prevent harm from happening to his or her passengers. This obligation is known as the duty of care, and should the driver fail to use due care, and should one of his or her passengers be injured or killed as a result, the passenger or the passenger’s survivors have a right to payment from the driver for injuries and losses sustained. A Passenger Cannot Be Negligent or At-Fault Additionally, the passenger of a motor vehicle is almost never at fault, and as a result, has the right to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company—even if the driver happens to be his or her friend, family member, or acquaintance.   If you were recently in an accident in which your friend was the at-fault driver, and if you sustained serious injuries from that accident, it may be in your best interests to seek compensation for your injuries—especially if medical care is needed to heal. However, we understand how difficult it can be to file an insurance claim against your friend for your injuries. After all, your friend may misread the situation and assume that you are attacking them. However, the fact of the matter is that are not suing your friend, but rather, you are suing the insurance company. Your friend has insurance not only to protect him or herself, but also to provide for the injuries, deaths, and damages he or she causes, including injuries or deaths to his or her passengers. Before filing a personal injury claim, explain this to them – as well as your desire to be properly compensated for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering – and hopefully they will understand. Hire a Tucson Personal Injury Attorney At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, our personal injury attorneys can help you understand your rights as the passenger of the at-fault vehicle, file a personal injury claim, and hopefully arm you with enough knowledge of personal injury law to thaw your friend in the event that they are upset with your decision to file a personal injury claim. To speak with a Tucson personal injury lawyer today about the steps you need to take to file a successful claim, call us at 1-520-797-1041 or 520-797-5674, or contact us online today.

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