Accidents Due to Road Damage and Unmarked Hazards
112 SW 8th Avenue, Suite 301
Amarillo, Texas 75219
With the arrival of winter, ice and snow will add their damage the roads of the Texas Panhandle in addition to that caused by the usual heavy car and truck traffic. In turn, this road damage will also add to the number of auto accidents in the area. This leads to a question that is commonly asked during winter in Amarillo: Who is liable for the damages in auto accidents that were, in part, caused by poor road conditions?
In general, the responsibility for road repairs falls to the city, county, or state agency that was responsible for the original construction of the road. This means, for example, that a street within the city limits of Amarillo that was built by the city becomes the responsibility of the City of Amarillo’s Street Department or that maintenance of a Farm to Market Road is the responsibility of the Texas Department of Transportation. U.S. highways are usually maintained by the state with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
There are, of course, areas where responsibility for road conditions may overlap such as a state or federal highway that enters a city and becomes a city street. In most cases the state Department of Transportation will be responsible for maintenance but will share some of the cost with the city.
Liability for Road Conditions Due to Damaged Roads and Rights of Way
The courts have usually held that whoever is responsible for maintaining a road is also responsible for any damages caused by road conditions. While this appears to be a fairly straightforward principle, in practicality it poses a few problems.
An agency must first be aware that a problem exists before it can take action to repair that problem. Most of the time this is done by routine inspections carried out by road crews and, more importantly, by reports from citizens who use the roads regularly and report any problems that they notice to the highway department. If, however, the highway crew should have been aware that a problem could exist in an area because of past experience the department may be seen as negligent if that problem is not promptly corrected.
It is impossible for a repair crew to instantly respond to every report of road damage. In most cases repairs are prioritized, with the more critical repairs being done first and other repairs done as time and circumstanced permit. Exceptions are made if a damaged section poses an imminent danger to life and/or property. A different consideration is necessary for problems with a right of way.
A right of way is land that is not a section of road but the land adjacent to a road. Right of way is measured as a certain distance from the center line of a road and is also the responsibility of the appropriate street or highway department. Since conditions of a right of way such as erosion or falling materials can affect safety, such damage must also be repaired in a timely manner.
Any road damage that poses a danger to public safety must be repaired as soon as possible. If repairs cannot be accomplished, warning signs that are clearly visible to a driver. If deemed necessary, a detour should be provided. Failure to clearly identify a hazard in a timely manner can be considered as negligence.
Contacting an Amarillo Auto Accident Lawyer
Liability in accidents that were possibly due to road damage can be difficult to pin down because there is often uncertainty as to when such damage was reported and whether the report was confirmed by a road crew member. In these cases the services of an Amarillo auto accident lawyer will be invaluable in pinpointing the negligent parties.
If you were involved in an accident that was at least in part due to the damaged condition of a public road or highway, you should contact the Amarillo auto accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm – Amarillo to discuss your options for recovering damages from the agency that maintains that road.
When you contact the auto accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, you first consultation is always free of charge and in no way obligates you to retain our firm. If you decide that our Amarillo auto accident lawyer should manage your auto accident case, we will never ask you for a retainer or any other charges. The Amarillo auto accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will handle all expenses necessary for us to win your case in exchange for a previously agreed-to percentage of the settlement we will win for you.
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