Motor vehicle accidents are often caused — in whole or in part — by the presence of unexpected road debris and various other roadway hazards. In the state of Arizona, for example, the Department of Transportation estimates that road debris alone is responsible for 1,000 crashes on an annual basis. Accidents from dangerous road conditions can be particularly disastrous, as drivers may not be prepared for
If you have been involved in an accident that was caused by road debris or some other roadway hazard, then you may be entitled to damages, as it the existence of the dangerous condition may be indicative of another’s negligence. You’ll therefore want to get in touch with a Phoenix injury lawyer as soon as possible for an evaluation of your car accident claims and how best to proceed with litigation.
Though the existence of a roadway hazard may not always be the fault of another party, there are many cases in which the negligence of the defendant — typically the possessor of a particular roadway (i.e., the government, or some private entity) — has contributed to the hazard at-issue. If the defendant fails to correct the hazard or fails to warn motorists of the existence of the hazard so that it can be avoided, then liability may attach under prevailing Arizona law.
Roadways Must Be Maintained in a Reasonably Safe Condition
Claims arising out of injuries sustained due to road debris (or other roadway hazards) generally come under the umbrella of premises liability. Premises liability claims in Arizona are rather similar to those found in other jurisdictions throughout the country. Stated simply, you will be entitled to recover damages if you can show that the defendant — the person or entity who is in control of a particular property, which may include a roadway — failed to maintain the roadway in a reasonably safe condition for motorists.
Once a hazard is known (or should be known to the defendant), then they have a responsibility to correct it. The hazard can be corrected in two ways: 1) the defendant can repair the hazard or remove the debris at-issue, or 2) the defendant can put up signs warnings motorists about the impending hazard so that it can be avoided.
For example, suppose that there is a large pothole in one of the lanes of a busy public highway. After the government discovers the hazard, they have a duty to correct it and minimize its danger. Perhaps they do not have the immediate resources to fill in the pothole. They must instead setup a perimeter around the pothole and create signs warning motorists about the presence of the hazard.
It’s worth noting that the defendant may attempt to avoid liability by arguing that they were not aware of the hazard at-issue, and that they were therefore not required to correct the hazard or warn motorists of its existence. This is not necessarily a winning argument for the defendant, however, if they “should have known” about the hazard given the circumstances. Generally speaking, those who are responsible for roadways have a duty to inspect those roadways for dangerous conditions that could expose motorists to an unreasonable risk of injury. Failure to inspect and discover a condition does not shield the defendant from liability.
Hazards Must Be Non-Obvious or Unavoidable
In Arizona, defendants cannot be held liable for injuries caused by hazards that were obvious or avoidable — they can only be held liable for hazards that were concealed in some way such that reasonably prudent motorists would not have discovered the hazard before it was too late to avoid it.
For example, if you are driving and you notice (from a distance) that a fallen tree is covering half a lane on the roadway, you cannot slam into the tree and then obtain damages from the City for your injuries. Unless the collision was fundamentally unavoidable, the fact that you became aware of the hazard well in advance means that you had a responsibility to exert reasonable efforts to avoid the hazard.
Contact an Experienced Phoenix Injury Lawyer for Assistance With Your Claims
If you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident involving road debris or some other hazard on the roadway, then you may have the right to sue and recover damages pursuant to Arizona premises liability law.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience litigating claims on behalf of the injured, including motorists who encountered unexpected road hazards. We are committed to client-oriented legal representation — we make ourselves available to clients 24/7, offer discounted contingency fees, and encourage a level of transparency in the attorney-client relationship that many other firms fail to achieve. This approach is advantageous for everyone involved. You can have any questions or concerns addressed quickly, and we can better understand your litigation goals.
Call 602-535-1900 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Phoenix injury lawyer here at Hirsch & Lyon.