Imagine you are driving safely along the road at the speed limit when suddenly you hit a pothole. Your tire bursts and you lose control of your vehicle, hitting a concrete barrier. You’re injured, your car is massively damaged, and you lose two weeks from work while you recover. What can you do about it? Who is to blame when there’s no other vehicle involved?
In cases like these, your car accident may be due to poor road conditions. These accidents are all too common, with nearly one-half of all fatal auto accidents occurring in the United States each year attributed to poorly designed or maintained roads.
You could have a valid claim against the party responsible for maintaining the roads. Acting quickly is crucial to avoid missing important filing deadlines. New Mexico’s Tort Claims Act requires you to file a notice with the government agency within 90 days of your injury. The tenacious car accident lawyers at Parnall Law Firm, LLC can discuss your case and take immediate steps to protect your rights.
Types of Bad Road Conditions
Bad road conditions that can lead to accidents include:
- Potholes – Potholes are structural defects in a roadway’s surface, often caused by shifting dirt and soil that occurs after vehicles pass over the road. Eventually, this shifting results in cracks in the asphalt and loose pavement.
- Shoulder drop-offs – Some road shoulders are more than two inches below the road surface, creating a hazard to motorists.
- Missing guardrails – Guardrails help prevent motorists from entering into opposing lanes of traffic or other dangerous areas. When they are missing, serious car accidents are more likely to occur.
- Missing road signs – Road signs can go missing because of storms or even vandalism. When government agencies fail to promptly replace absent stop signs, speed limits signs, yield signs, and other critical traffic-regulating signs, motorists may crash.
- Changes in road surfaces – Road surfaces may be of different heights and may be constructed with different materials. When motorists are not warned about these changes, they may be more likely to be hurt in an accident. They may overreact to the change in the road surface, or they may fail to adjust their driving to pass over the altered road safely.
- Faint lane markings – The markings between lanes help prevent motorists from veering into a nearby lane. Over time, these lines can fade, requiring new paint to help make them more visible to motorists.
- Oil and chip – Oil and chip temporarily fix problem road conditions until they can be resurfaced. However, they can become slippery over time, which can lead to hydroplaning and loss of control of vehicles.
- Lack of rumble strips – No rumble strips can cause a distracted, fatigued, or impaired driver to fail to realize when they are leaving the roadway.
- Poor road design – Factors like sharp turns, blind curves, sudden drop-offs, and obstructions can create hazards for motorists.
How Poor Road Conditions Cause Accidents
Unsafe road conditions can create circumstances that make traffic accidents more likely to occur because:
- Drivers may try to avoid the hazard – A driver may try to avoid a hazard like a pothole because they don’t want to damage their vehicle. However, by swerving, they may collide with a nearby vehicle.
- Drivers lose control of their vehicle – Some road hazards can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle, resulting in a crash or rollover.
- Drivers are unaware of the hazard – Drivers may not see the danger and may crash because of it.
Common Causes of Bad Road Conditions
Bad road conditions are often caused by the following:
- Weather – Extreme heat, rain, sleet, and other weather events can erode roads over time.
- Traffic – Pavement will naturally break down over time as vehicles drive over it, especially on roads where heavy vehicles like big rigs and farm equipment ride over them.
- Poor maintenance – Roads that are not properly maintained can deteriorate faster and pose hazards to motorists.
Who Is Responsible When a Car Accident Happens Because of Poor Road Conditions?
Various governmental agencies are responsible for maintaining roads and ensuring that they are safe to travel on. These agencies can prevent accidents caused by poor road conditions by:
- Designing and building safe roads
- Conducting traffic and accident studies to identify problem areas
- Providing proper signage, pavement markings, traffic control devices, and signals
- Fixing potholes promptly
- Paving roads regularly
- Performing regular maintenance
If an accident occurs because of a hazardous road condition, the government agency responsible for designing or maintaining the roadway may be legally liable for the resulting damages.
How to Prevent Car Accidents Caused by Road Conditions
New Mexico drivers must be cautious since approximately 32 percent of the state’s major roads are in poor condition. The situation is even worse in Albuquerque, with 40 percent of the roads considered in poor condition. These poor road conditions cost New Mexico drivers $2.7 billion each year. You can try to minimize the damage to you and your vehicle by:
- Driving the speed limit
- Remaining alert and aware of your surroundings
- Avoiding distractions
- Driving on familiar roadways
- Increasing the following distance between you and other vehicles
- Slowing down when approaching uneven surfaces or potential poor road conditions
Filing a Claim for Bad Road Car Accidents in New Mexico
If you sustain damages because of bad road conditions in New Mexico, you may be able to file a claim to recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses stemming from the collision
- Costs to repair or replace your vehicle
- Wages you lost when seeking medical treatment or recovering
- Pain and suffering
An experienced car accident lawyer can advise you of what you need to prove to establish a valid claim, as well as the deadline for filing your claim.
How Parnall Law Firm, LLC Can Help After a Car Accident
At our firm, we offer the Parnall Law Firm Difference, a bill of rights of sorts for our clients and a 100% client satisfaction guarantee. We have successfully represented car accident victims throughout Central New Mexico since 1997, clients who have been injured in all types of car accidents, including accidents caused by poor road conditions, speeding, reckless driving, and other negligent behavior. We will identify all potentially liable parties and sources of compensation, gather evidence to establish your claim, and aggressively and tenaciously pursue justice for you. Contact us today to get started.