Road Design and Defects


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Road design defects can lead to catastrophic accidents.  A proper road design means that drivers have adequate ability to see and react to the circumstances ahead.  This includes fair warning of any changes in the road or unusual conditions.  A failure in road design may lead to a highway design defect which results in injuries.  Such injuries can be significant, ranging from lacerations to spinal cord injuries.  Consequently, the entity responsible for the maintenance and control of the road may be subject to liability for these injuries.

Road Damages, Obstructions, Defects and Hazards

Common types of road design defects, obstructions and hazards for which liability may result include the following:

  • lack of warning
  • low curbing
  • blind spots
  • culverts
  • improperly placed barriers and guard railing
  • defective curbing
  • inappropriate lighting
  • defective traffic signals
  • inappropriate use of landscaping
  • uncovered drainage
  • defective lighting
  • improper sloping

Liability for Road Conditions

Generally, the local municipality, county or state is responsible for the maintenance and control of the highways which fall within their particular jurisdiction.  The applicable law of the jurisdiction will specify which agency has the legal authority to control and maintain the roadway.  Therefore, if the agency fails to properly take care of the road and this failure results in injuries to an individual, the agency may be subject to liability.                                              

Liability for Accidents caused by Faulty Roads

Usually, if an individual has an accident on a defective highway, the state law in which the accident occurs permits an individual to file a suit against the municipality or state who is responsible for maintaining the highway.  There may be joint liability on the part of both the municipality or the state, or either one, depending upon the circumstances of the matter.

How a Lawyer Can Help Recover for Damages

An attorney can assist one in recovering for damages.  Initially, a skilled attorney will be familiar with the particular state and local guidelines.  For example, there are various legal prerequisites in many jurisdictions, such as a time-sensitive “notice of claim” which must be filed prior to the actual filing of a lawsuit.  In addition, an attorney can assist in documenting one’s losses such that a judge, jury or insurance company will properly see the level of compensation one should receive.  Finally, an experienced attorney will have the expertise to obtain the necessary experts to measure the damages one has incurred as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident.

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