Sometimes a car accident occurs because of poor road quality. Even if you’re careful, your vehicle might hit a pothole. An accident might occur because of a washed-out piece of road. Even debris on the road can cause a crash. When this happens, and you sustain injuries from it, you naturally wonder what your options are for recovery.
If you’re hurt because of poor road conditions, you need to bring a claim against the government agency that’s responsible for the crash. When you bring a case against a government entity, some considerations aren’t the same as when you bring a lawsuit against a private party. Here’s what you should know about liability after an auto accident that was caused by poor quality roads.
Typically, government agencies enjoy sovereign immunity, which is the basic rule that you can’t sue the government. The United States takes this practice from old English laws. In the 18th century in England, you couldn’t sue the king, because he was the king. The United States initially adopted this rule.
However, U.S. and Nevada officials soon decided to create statutory exceptions that allow people to sue the government in some circumstances. When a person gets hurt because a government agency acts negligently, the injured person may be able to bring a claim for recovery.
The injured person must send a notice of their claim before they formally file in court. It’s also important to pay attention to time limits to file, and carefully consider what you need to do to build the claim against the government.
Suing the Right Entity
The first step to bringing a case against a government entity is to determine who you need to bring the claim against. There might be more than one entity responsible for maintaining the road. It’s important to research which agency is responsible for that particular maintenance because you need to bring a claim against the correct government entity.
For example, it might be the county’s job to repair a road if it’s washed out because of rain or a flood. On the other hand, it might be the city’s job to fill a pothole. Both the state and a local agency might be responsible for maintaining different aspects of the road.
After you identify the proper agency, they might have records that are helpful for building your case. The agency might have records of public complaints about the road or maintenance records that can help you demonstrate the government’s failure to maintain the road properly.
How to Build Your Case
Compiling a case against a government agency is often a tedious process. You need to gather evidence that satisfies your burden of proof that the government’s negligence led to the poor road conditions and your losses.
This usually means working with an expert that can testify about the conditions of the road. The expert can look at the circumstances surrounding the crash. From there, they can use their skills and knowledge to determine how the road conditions contributed to or caused the accident.
Negligent Construction and Maintenance Claims
There are multiple ways that the government might be liable for a poor road condition. A government entity may be responsible for your losses if they fail to maintain the roads properly. This might be a pothole, trees left on the road, or ice on the road that causes a crash. The government entity might be negligent when they fail to repair a road after it deteriorates or suffers damage.
However, another considerable area of liability for poor road conditions is the negligent design of the road. Perhaps the government constructed the road with a curve that’s too sharp for reasonable navigation. Maybe they made a slope too steep for most vehicles. You may be the victim of construction workers who fail to build the road according to plan. It’s important to get to the bottom of the cause of the crash to bring the right type of claim and gather your proof.
Notice of Claim and Time Limitations
To bring a case against any government agency in Nevada, you need to start with a notice of claim. This is a statement in writing to the relevant government agency that you intend to bring a lawsuit. Your notice needs to contain specific information, including the amount of damages you’re seeking, and an explanation of why you think the government is responsible.
The government has the choice to accept your claim and pay you immediately, or they can reject your claim and wait for a trial. If they reject your claim, you have the right to bring a lawsuit in a Nevada court. The government’s denial of your claim has no bearing on how the court or a jury might treat your case.
If you plan to bring your case against the State of Nevada, the notice goes to the Nevada State Board of Examiners. If you intend to bring a case against a local entity, the notice goes to the relevant local government. You have only two years from the date of your injury to both file the notice and bring the claim, so it’s important to work quickly.
Elements and Defenses
To win your case, you must prove that the government agency you’re bringing the claim against has a duty to maintain the road. You must show that they acted negligently by failing to maintain the road properly and that this failure resulted in your losses.
The government might raise a defense to your claim. They might state that you or another driver acted negligently in a way that caused the crash. They might try to blame the weather for the accident instead of their maintenance of the road. If this happens, you need to be prepared to show the jury through witness testimony, accident reconstruction, and maintenance logs that your version of events is correct.
Can an Attorney Help?
A skilled injury attorney can guide you as you navigate this complex area of law. They can help you determine which government entity bears responsibility for maintenance of the road and help build your case to prove what caused the crash.
When you work with an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney, they can make sure you submit your notice of claim to the proper agency. Bringing a claim against the government is difficult by design, making the need for legal expertise crucial if you have sustained injuries in an accident due to poor quality roads. At each step, your attorney ensures that you pursue your case properly as you work together for a fair recovery.