New York Dangerous Road Accident Lawyers

According to TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, 47 percent of New York's major roads were found to be in poor or mediocre condition, a sobering statistic that highlights the dangers New Yorkers face in everyday travel. Road hazards such as potholes, uneven pavement, black ice, and more can pose serious dangers to motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike, causing traffic collisions resulting in critical injuries or even death.

Just as drivers must follow traffic laws and exhibit a certain standard of care for other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, the municipal entity in charge of the roadways also has an ethical and legal obligation to ensure the roads are properly maintained. When the local government fails to properly design or repair its roadways, it can be held liable for any resulting injuries.

Types of Dangerous Roadway Defects

Road damage can be caused by natural factors, such as erosion that leads to potholes, while others are caused by neglect and lack of proper maintenance. If left unrepaired, roadway defects can increase the likelihood of accidents for motorists traveling on these roads and pose a risk to pedestrians and cyclists who share the road with them. Common roadway defects include the following:

  • Uneven pavement: Uneven pavement, if not properly identified for drivers, can keep motorists from adjusting their speed and allow them to drive unsafely into an area where they should have slowed down. Uneven pavement can also include shoulder drop-offs, which occurs when the shoulder of the road is at a different level than the rest of the street.
  • Poor road design: Roads are supposed to be designed to provide the safest environment possible for motorists. Poorly designed roads, which include sharp turns, steep drop-offs, blind curves, or confusing intersections, can lead to in an increased risk of accidents.
  • Inadequate traffic signals or signs: If traffic signals or informational signs on the road are either nonexistent or unclear, drivers may be unsure of how to proceed, leading to an increased risk of driver error and collisions.
  • Improper drainage: This can lead to wet, slippery roads or black ice in freezing conditions.
  • Lack of warning signs detailing construction zones or other road hazards: In the process of attempting to fix a damaged road, construction companies may set up work zones that impede a road's natural course. If the construction company involved does not keep the work zone safe or properly warn passersby of its existence, the construction company might be found liable.
  • Potholes: Potholes initially form as a result of poor weather, changing temperatures, and heavy traffic flow, and they usually only worsen until repaired. Even a small pothole can inhibit a driver's control, causing a vehicle to swerve and collide with another car.

According to a 2017 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report, cited by TRIP, every $100 million spent on necessary roadway safety improvements would, over a 20-year period, reduce the number of nationwide traffic fatalities by 44 and serious traffic injuries by 760. Poorly maintained or designed roads are clearly dangerous and have a significant effect on the amount of accidents that occur.

Our attorneys have extensive experience litigating dangerous roadway cases and have achieved some of the highest results in New York for our clients, including a $22.5 million settlement for a client injured in a collision caused by icy roads. To speak with a Block O'Toole & Murphy attorney today, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form.

Liability in Car Crashes Resulting From Road Hazards

Cities and states are required to properly maintain the roadways under their jurisdiction and inspect them regularly. Most municipal and state governments have a way for residents to file complaints about roadway defects. If the local government fails to respond to these complaints, it may be held liable for any accidents resulting from such road defects. However, just because you were injured as a result of dangerous road conditions does not always mean the government is at fault. Victims who can prove that the government knew about the road defect and failed to act may be able to file a lawsuit against the culpable municipality to recover compensation for their car accident injuries.

Proving liability can be difficult in a personal injury case against the government resulting from poorly maintained roads. You must be able to demonstrate two things:

  1. The area where your accident occurred was an area that the government entity maintaining the road knew to be unsafe, or they should have known it to be unsafe
  2. Even with this knowledge, they did not take the proper steps to fix the area in a reasonable amount of time

For example, say that you suffered some broken bones as a result of an accident at an intersection that you feel was poorly designed. In order to blame the accident on the government entity that maintained the intersection, you would have to find records of previous, similar complaints about the same intersection (to show that the government knew it was a problem area), as well as ensure that they did not take any steps to fix the potentially dangerous area before your accident. This would be quite a lot of work to undertake alone, which is why obtaining a New York auto accident lawyer would likely be helpful to you.

Challenges of Lawsuits Resulting from Defective Road Accidents

Since the government can be found liable for accidents that result from poorly maintained or dangerous roads, it is important to understand the difference between bringing a claim against the city or state and bringing a claim against a private citizen. There are certain rules that must be followed in order to make a personal injury claim against any government agency. Here are some things to remember when thinking about bringing a personal injury case against a government entity:

  • Research your right to make the claim: In New York State, the Court of Claims Act waives the government's immunity from liability, meaning that if their negligent actions have resulted in injury, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against them, just as if you were bringing one against a private citizen. This waiver typically applies to the City of New York and local governments as well. However, it is best to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your right to make a claim against a government entity, as there may be exceptions to the immunity waiver.
  • You must file a Notice of Claim: Unlike lawsuits against private parties, you must notify any government entity that you have a complaint against them before formally filing the lawsuit. In this way, the agency will be made aware of your grievances and have a chance to respond to them. They will either accept your claim (meaning, they agree they are responsible for your injuries and will compensate you) or they will deny it, in which case you are now free to file a formal lawsuit against them. These notices should be filed as soon as possible after your accident. The New York City Comptroller's office has guidelines for filing a Notice of Claim.
  • Don't waste time: The time limits for filing claims against the government are much shorter than normal statutes of limitations. A personal injury notice of claim against the government in New York must be filed within 90 days of the date the incident occurred.

The extra steps that have to be taken when filing a claim against a government agency, coupled with the shorter time limits within which to file, make lawsuits resulting from defective roads especially challenging. Therefore, it is important for auto accident victims to contact an attorney shortly after their crash. Because of the strict guidelines governing these types of claims, injured auto accident victims need to speak to an attorney with a strong background in this area of law, so they can ensure they are not barred from making a claim.

Contact Our NYC Law Firm for a Free Consultation

At Block O'Toole & Murphy, our attorneys have extensive experience handling claims against the government in auto accident cases that resulted from poorly maintained roads. We have the tools to prepare a strong case against the government, an often difficult defendant. If you have been injured in a car crash due to a roadway defect, do not hesitate to call us at 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form today for a FREE case review. We serve New York and New Jersey.

Results attained for clients harmed by roadway defects include:

  • $22,500,000 settlement for a husband and father who was injured in a car accident caused by black ice
    Firm partner Daniel O'Toole obtained the largest settlement ever paid in a personal injury case by a governmental entity in New York State for the 32-year-old man.

    While driving in snowy conditions in Westchester County, New York, our client noticed another car coming from the opposite direction drifting toward him. While trying to avoid the oncoming car by steering away, he realized he could not prevent the accident as his car was slipping on black ice that resulted from improper drainage. He was severely injured in the accident and lost use of his dominant arm.

  • $8,800,000 settlement for a 53-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury
    Firm partners Stephen Murphy and David Scher recovered a $8,800,000 settlement in a case against the City of New York for a woman who was walking to pick up her grandchildren from school when two vans collided at an intersection, causing one to run up onto the sidewalk and crash into her. The vans collided because one of them ran a stop sign that was partially obscured by a tree that was not maintained properly by the City. The woman suffered a traumatic brain injury and still deals with neurological and cognitive issues.
  • $2,558,000 settlement in a wrongful death case for the wife of a man who died in a car crash at a poorly designed Brooklyn intersection
    At the time of the accident, the deceased was being driven through a Brooklyn intersection, when another vehicle slammed into the passenger side door, tragically killing him. The wife of the victim made a claim against the City of New York for keeping one traffic signal mounted on a low pole at the corner of the intersection, rather than install overhead traffic lights. She claimed that it was a poorly designed intersection, as the traffic light was not clearly visible to drivers, and this should have been remedied as the City had been made aware of this issue prior to the accident.
  • $2,000,000 settlement in a wrongful death case against the City of New York for the parents of a man who died in a car accident after his vehicle slipped on black ice on the Grand Central Parkway, causing him to spin out
  • $1,500,000 settlement for a motorcyclist who was hit by a fire truck owned by the City of New York at an intersection without a stop sign on Governors Island
  • $1,490,000 settlement for a man who was hurt in a collision with a school bus at a Brooklyn intersection that had no stop signs or traffic signals
  • $1,250,000 settlement in a case against the City of New York, for a 56-year-old woman whose preexisting back and neck injuries worsened after she drove over an unmarked 4-foot-deep pothole in Brooklyn

To read our other auto injury results, please visit the Motor Vehicle Verdicts & Settlements section of our site. To speak with an attorney, please call 212-736-5300.

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