A public road or freeway, or other public spaces can be “dangerous” if someone is injured or killed and the property created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury that the victim suffered. Sustaining injury or death from a “dangerous condition” on a public road is a scenario when a private party can sue the government entity that owned or controlled the road. Examples include a collapsed overpass or broken signal at an intersection, or inadequate or untimely repair or maintenance of roads or freeways, which is evident from large potholes, crumbling concrete support improvements, or overpasses and bridges that collapse. Even if the government entity does not own the property, establishing “control” may be sufficient to prove liability. Control may exist if a public entity has the power to prevent or guard against the dangerous condition. As with other damage cases, proving a causal link between the damage or harm sustained and the dangerous condition is required by law.
What Defenses Does The Government Commonly Use To Defend Dangerous Conditions Of A Public Property Or Roadway Claim? Are They Ever Immune?
Unfortunately, the legislature includes a number of defenses available to the government in these types of situations. One can be that the condition, even if dangerous, was natural instead of man-made, and a public entity may not be responsible for the harm caused. Other defenses include that the victim (the plaintiff) did not act in a reasonably foreseeable manner, or that the public entity put forth a reasonable effort to correct the dangerous condition. Design immunity is a complete defense, whereby the government establishes that the reasonableness of the existing plan or design. Design immunity, in many cases, can be difficult to overcome.
Why is There Such A Short Timeline To File A Claim For Dangerous Conditions When Dealing With A Government Entity?
Lawsuits against a government entity follow special laws in California. There are shortened time frames and limitations periods for plaintiffs to take legal action. Regardless of the type of case, it starts with an administrative claim that must be presented to the government entity outside of court. The claim gives the government notice and a chance to “fix” the scenario before litigation ensues. The government has 45 days to act on the claim, followed by a 6-month limit for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit if the claim remains idle or is denied. This claim requirement does not exist in private-to-private lawsuits.
A Missing Roadway Sign Caused My Father’s Car Wreck. What Are His Options?
The first thing that should be done is to determine whether the incident occurred on private or public property. If it was on public property, then the person injured could allege that there was a dangerous condition from a missing roadway sign and that under normal circumstances, it would be reasonable to assume that a sign should have been there.
I Was In An Accident Caused By Potholes On The Road Near My Home. Who Is At Fault Here?
Fault is going to be determined by whether the road was a public right of way that is owned and controlled by a government entity. Potholes have to be in existence for such a time that the government should have had noticed them, and that the plaintiff was acting in a reasonable manner when injured.
What Types Of Dangerous Road Conditions Can The Government Be Responsible For?
In order to hold the government liable, the injury must have occurred on property that is controlled by some public entity. Examples of such conditions include neglectful repair, maintenance, blind curves, broken or absent street signs, lack of a warning sign where reasonably expected, collapsing or failing improvements or structures, and more.
What Is Considered A Dangerous Condition?
A dangerous condition is any existing feature, characteristic or condition on a public right of way (such as a freeway or a road controlled by a public entity) that causes a reasonably foreseeable danger to those who regularly use it in a foreseeable manner.
I Was In An Accident Because Of A Blind Spot. Who Is Responsible?
If the blind spot occurred on a public right of way, and it was reasonably foreseeable that oncoming traffic would not be able to be seen by someone driving reasonably, the government entity that controls the road may be held liable for creating a dangerous condition.
I Was In An Accident Caused By A Collapsed Overpass Or Debris On The Road. Who Is Responsible?
When an overpass collapses on a public right of way, the government entity that controls the overpass can typically be held liable for creating a dangerous condition. However, the plaintiff would have to prove several things, including that the overpass was deteriorated, defective or damaged in such a way that it would create a foreseeable injury. A dangerous condition could also be proven if the public entity had the power to prevent or fix the overpass from collapsing before it actually happened, but failed to do so.
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