Complicated Cases. Diligent Legal Help.
Government entities have a responsibility to design, construct and maintain roadways to protect motorcycle riders from unreasonable safety threats in Columbia and across South Carolina. Sometimes, a government entity fails in that duty. When that occurs and a motorcyclist is injured as the result of a related accident, the government entity could be found liable and be legally obligated to compensate the injured motorcyclist. If a private party — for example, a contractor or engineer — contributed to the dangerous condition, it might also be possible to recover damages from them.
Examples of road defects or negligent road construction that could amount to compensable negligence include:
- Road not designed to standards – Roads are usually required to meet design standards or specifications promulgated by the federal or state government. If a roadway fails to meet those requirements, it could be defective by design.
- Failure to make repairs – If the appropriate agency has been notified of repairs that need to be made and fails to make them in a timely manner, that could be considered negligence. Potholes are a common example of repairs that could lead to a claim of negligence if the pothole is not repaired and a motorcycle accident ensues.
- Missing or inadequate guardrails – Some roads are hazardous because of where they are located or because of sharp curves. When this is the case, the government may be required to construct guardrails or other barriers to limit the potential harm if a motorcycle or other vehicle leaves the roadway. Failing to construct these guardrails or constructing inadequate guardrails could be considered negligence.
- Missing or inadequate signs – The government is required to post adequate signs warning motorcycle riders and other drivers about dangerous road conditions, such as a steep incline, uneven pavement or a sharp curve ahead. Failing to post these warnings could amount to negligence.
- Defective traffic lights – If a traffic light is not working, and that contributes to an accident, it could be considered negligence.
It is important to understand that the governmental entity responsible for designing, constructing and maintaining a roadway is not required to eliminate all potential hazards. Driving comes with a degree of inherent risk that all motorists accept when they choose to drive on a public roadway. It is unreasonably dangerous conditions that can lead to liability. A motorcyclist who has been injured in an accident where a design, construction or maintenance defect could have been a contributing factor should consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to determine if negligence played a role in the wreck.
Special Considerations with Defective Road Lawsuits
Although a governmental entity can be held responsible for negligent conduct that results in injury, the process and procedures that must be followed when a government entity is a defendant are different from a traditional personal injury lawsuit. First, the victim must determine whom to name as the defendant. When a road defect is a possible contributing factor, this requires an investigation into who is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of the roadway where the crash occurred. In addition, the South Carolina Tort Claims Act limits the amount of liability that a government entity has for injuries caused by its negligence. Exactly how much an injured victim can recover will depend on who the defendant is and the specific facts of the case. It is also important to consider bringing a claim against a private entity, such as the contractor, construction company or civil engineer responsible for the road defect.
The best way to ensure that you pursue every available source of compensation is to contact an experienced South Carolina attorney now to find out what legal options you may have. While a government defendant could make your motorcycle accident case more complicated, it certainly does not prevent you from recovering the compensation you are entitled to. It does, however, increase the importance of hiring an experienced attorney who understands the laws and procedures that apply to government defendants.