If improper roadway maintenance leads to a vehicle accident, individuals involved may be able to recover compensation. In some cases, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the agency or government entity responsible for roadway maintenance. However, these claims can become more complicated than a traditional personal injury or property damage lawsuit. Here, we want to discuss the process involved with filing a lawsuit against a government entity if improper road maintenance causes an accident with injuries or property damage.
How Improper Road Maintenance Causes Accidents
Improper roadway maintenance can affect the flow of traffic, and it can certainly cause accidents and certain scenarios. There are various types of poor roadway conditions that can lead to vehicle accidents, including the following:
- Potholes. Potholes are everywhere, and we all know how bad local municipalities and the Georgia DOT is about fixing them. Potholes can lead to significant vehicle damage, and they can also cause major accidents that lead to extensive damage to multiple vehicles.
- Shoulder drop-off. Anytime there is a sharp drop-off region near the shoulder of a road, this can pose significant dangers for drivers.
- Oil and chip issues. Road construction crews and various state, county, and municipal road maintenance teams use the “oil and chip” method to temporarily fix roadways before they are resurfaced. These oil and chip areas involve putting down a thin layer of tar and stones, but these patches can also become slippery if they are left for extended periods of time.
- Construction zones. Active construction zones can create major hazards if they are not adequately marked by signs and visible to drivers. Uneven road surfaces and unexpected lane shifts are major hazards for drivers.
- Slick roadways. Roadways can become slick for a variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with improper roadway maintenance. However, areas with a continual pooling of water that creates a slick roadway should be fixed by government authorities.
- Poor sign placement. Government transportation agencies are responsible for proper roadway signs. If sides are damaged or placed in incorrect locations, this can create a major hazard for drivers.
What is the Georgia Tort Claims Act?
It may be possible to file a lawsuit against any government entity for an accident caused by improper road maintenance. However, claims against a government entity in the state of Georgia are more challenging than a traditional personal injury lawsuit. These claims must be filed under the Georgia Tort Claims Act (O.C.G.A. § 50-21-20, et seq.).
This act provides a waiver of the state’s sovereign immunity, which typically prevents individuals from suing the government. This waiver is allowed if a state employee or officer acting within the scope of their official duties caused the injury. Even if it can be shown that that government employee’s actions caused the injury and that they were acting within the scope of their duties at the time the incident occurred, that does not guarantee success. There are various elements that must be in place to move forward with a claim against a government entity or official.
We strongly encourage you to work with a skilled Newnan injury lawyer who can help file a claim against a government entity through the Georgia Tort Claims Act. An attorney can investigate the viability of your claim, conduct an investigation into the incident, and work to show that the government employee or agency knew or should have known about the hazard that caused your injury.