Road conditions can be a major contributing factor for car accidents. While impaired drivers, toxic chemicals, and other more visible factors often receive more media coverage, the fact remains that poor roadway conditions can be just as dangerous to road users.
Victims who are injured in any type of auto accident may have the right to be compensated for their financial losses. A Hazleton car accident attorney can help injury victims determine the best method of accessing compensation for injuries caused by poor roadway conditions.
Pennsylvania’s Pothole Problem
Like many other cold-weather states, Pennsylvania roadways are subjected to harsh weather conditions. Ice, sleet, snow piles, and road salt can all erode roadway surfaces. This erosion may start simply as a small crack, bump or chip in the asphalt or concrete. But these small imperfections grow over time, especially under the pressures of temperature fluctuations. Many of them eventually become dangerous potholes.
According to The Times Herald, PennDOT is encouraging local drivers to report potholes so that the Department can get maintenance crews out to fix them as soon as possible. Just since December 1, 2017, PennDOT has placed more than 600 tons of patching materials on Pennsylvania roadways.
The Inquirer spoke to Philadelphia drivers about the effects of potholes. One suffered $600 in damages to his vehicle after hitting an unmarked pothole. Without cones, caution tape, or any other warning device around it, the driver was unable to see the pothole in time to avoid it. His tire was flattened. Another Philadelphia driver reported the same pothole to the Philadelphia Streets Department, claiming to have seen four vehicles sustain damage from that single pothole.
The Streets Department reports that it has filled at least 1,600 potholes between January 2017 and January 2018. This number may be on the rise: AAA Mid-Atlantic reports a 20-percent increase in flat tire calls for Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties over a single weekend in January 2018 when compared to the same time period in January 2017.
AAA estimates that pothole damage costs American drivers $300 billion every year.
Who is Liable for Injuries Caused By Poor Roadway Conditions?
There are many different parties who can be held legally responsible for car accidents caused by poor roadway conditions. In certain cases, a city, county, or state government agency can be liable for failing to maintain the roadway in a safe condition. This can be difficult to prove, but it is possible. In other cases, it might be possible to identify the person who caused the dangerous road condition (such as a truck driver whose cargo spills into the roadway).
The person legally responsible for causing an auto accident, and any resulting injuries, will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of the case. A Hazleton car accident attorney can help injury victims identify those parties who have a legal obligation to compensate for injuries and financial losses. By filing insurance claims, negotiating settlements, and filing a lawsuit as necessary, attorneys can help injury victims access the compensation to which they are entitled.