Defective roadway designs and maintenance cases are difficult to identify. Most motor vehicle accidents are caused by operator error. That is, most accidents are caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of one or more of the drivers. This is usually apparent as the primary cause of a motor vehicle when they occur. Some examples would be when driver A rear-ends driver B, or when driver A runs a red light and collides with driver B’s motor vehicle.
However, it is not always the case that driver A would be completely liable in these scenarios. Sometimes the culpable party is not always an obvious choice. The accident could have been contributed to by a negligent design, plan, or maintenance of a roadway. Some common negligence designs or maintenance include the following:
- Reoccurring flooding or rain water streaming over roadways;
- Narrow or debris covered shoulder;
- Potholes, cracked, or otherwise damaged roadway surfaces;
- Broken, chugged, or improperly placed drainage ditches or covers;
- Reoccurring snow drifts;
- Excessive snow, ice, leaves, garbage, or other debris accumulated on the roadway;
- Improperly accessing and establishing the speed limits;
- Incorrectly designing roundabouts;
- Hidden or difficult-to-see signs or traffic control devices;
- Failing to properly time traffic signals;
- Improperly installed or inadequate guardrails;
- Negligently constructed roadway signs; and
- Damaged or defective signs or traffic control devices.
You should always consult with a personal injury attorney in any motor vehicle accident to assess the possibility of the State or a municipality’s liability. Even a simple rear-end collision could have been caused by the improper design or maintenance of a roadway which appears to be seemingly irrelevant to you.
Liability in defective roadway design and maintenance cases is difficult and requires a competent and resourceful attorney to evaluate your claim. This is because the law contains many exceptions to liability and sub-exceptions.
For instance, the law of negligence holds that any culpable party may be liable for their wrongful conduct. However, the theory of sovereign immunity may prohibit lawsuits against the State and municipalities, even if they were negligent. Further still, the legislature has codified exceptions to the immunity shield where the State or municipality can be liable for their wrongful conduct.
Where it gets tricky is what kind of conduct the State of municipality is performing. Simply put, there is discretionary and operational conduct. Discretionary conduct is essentially deciding, formulating, and tweaking a plan of action the state will follow, whereas operational conduct is following that plan. Under New York law, the State or a municipality is not liable for negligent discretionary decisions but is liable for negligent operational decisions.
However, there is yet another exception. The State or a municipality may still be liable for a negligent discretionary decision involving roadways where the decision and plan was made on “plainly inadequate” studies or there is “no reasonable basis” for the plan.
As if this area of law was not difficult enough, the statute of limitations for a claim against the State or a municipality is ninety (90) days. A notice of claim must be filed within that time period to preserve your claim. This time period may be extended in some instances; however, that is not guaranteed.
Defective roadway design matters are a very complex and layered area of law which requires a resourceful and knowledgeable attorney to represent you. Our experienced law firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of those injured in defective roadway design and maintenance cases against New York State or a municipality. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to discuss your rights and options in seeking compensation.
The Hudson defective roadway designs and maintenance accident attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County. Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents. Please contact us today to receive a FREE case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.