New Jersey Dangerous Roadway Design & Defect Attorneys
Despite the advances in roadway engineering and design in the last century, errors in design and construction still contribute to far too many motor vehicle collisions. Federal and state departments of transportation have published guidelines and highway design engineers have set standards to ensure the safety of motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. Unfortunately, these same municipalities and state agencies frequently fail to follow their own highway safety guidelines and standards.
If you or a loved one has suffered a car accident due to unsafe road conditions or a defective road design, you could have a personal injury claim against the local municipality or state. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have more than 80 years’ worth of experience fighting for compensation for New Jersey and New York residents. Our skilled personal injury lawyers take pride in using the latest technology and sparing no expense to prove our clients’ claims. With decades’ worth of experience standing up to insurance adjusters and large corporations, you can rest assured knowing that Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi are prepared to take your case through to the very end. Call (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to speak with one of our legal representatives today. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and no fees are due until we win your case.
Who Is Liable for a Defective Roadway?
There are two overall types of unsafe roadway cases: poorly designed roads and poorly maintained roads.
“Poorly designed roads” can include a number issues, such as:
- Tight curves that cannot accommodate posted speeds limits
- Merging lanes that are not long enough
- Overly narrow lanes
- Inadequate or unclear road markings
- Hidden or improper signs
- Dangerous trenches, potholes, or drop-offs
- Blind intersections that put pedestrians and bicyclists at risk
- Improper grading or uneven roadways
- Lack of protective equipment, such as guardrails
Generally speaking, a poorly designed product that causes injury to someone else falls under the principle of products liability; that is, the guilty party in the manufacturing chain for a particular product can be found liable for the damage caused by that product. However, things get more complicated when a government entity and public roads are involved.
Dangerous and defective roadways lead to accidents that cause pain and suffering.
Depending on what type of road is involved, responsibility for the design defect could lie with the state-level transportation department or a city/county municipality. However, government agencies are immune from certain types of injury claims. This immunity, commonly known as “sovereign immunity,” can prove difficult for personal injury claims, but a lawyer who is well-versed in personal injury and government claims can help you figure out whether or not you have a case.
There are also certain situations in which a lawyer can find a way around sovereign immunity. For example, Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi handled a case in which a car left the roadway and fell down a 200-foot embankment, throwing the driver from the vehicle, before plunging another 100 feet to the bottom of the cliff. We sued the state of New York on the grounds that the absence of a guardrail to prevent the car from falling down the embankment constituted negligence. State engineers had elected not to install a guardrail at this location, even though a cable guard railing—installed in 1946 because of a state-authorized plan—was present nearby. Even though the state of New York is usually immune from liability for highway planning, Maggiano, Digirolamo & Lizzi were able to prove that the state violated a standard issued in 1940 by a national roadway design and safety organization.
Poor road maintenance can also lead to serious car accidents and injuries. Examples of dangerous, defective maintenance include:
- Debris in the roadway
- Severe potholes
- Construction debris, items, or equipment left in the path of traffic
- Excessive gravel or oil
- Malfunctioning warning signals
- Excessive foliage or debris that makes it difficult (or impossible) to read road signs
- Defective street lights
The governmental agency responsible for maintenance of that particular road could be found liable for failure to keep the roadway in good condition. However, it is not enough to prove that there was something in the road that led to collision—you must prove that the government was negligent in its maintenance for a successful claim. In other words, you must prove that the agency somehow failed in its duty to keep drivers safe; this could include not sending out maintenance crews, failing to supervise maintenance efforts, or other factors.
When Should You File Your Claim?
Proving a claim against a government entity is often much more complex than a typical personal injury claim, and there are special time limits and rules that must be followed. As such, it is important to consult an experienced New Jersey lawyer as soon as possible; the sooner an attorney can review your case, the sooner they can review the evidence and file the appropriate paperwork.
If you wish to file a lawsuit against the government, you must give formal notice of the claim within 90 days of the car accident. After filing the initial notification, you are required to wait six months to file a lawsuit. (During this time, the government agency will typically reach out to you to resolve your claim. With the help of an attorney, you can decide whether you would like to resolve your claim with the city or file a formal lawsuit.) After a formal notification is filed and six months have passed, you can file a formal claim against the government.
It is important to note that, regardless of who the claim is filed against, you must file it within two years of your injury. This is the case with all personal injury claims in New Jersey—not just government-related lawsuits.
MDL recovered $1,300,000 from the State of New York for a seriously injured passenger in a car that left the roadway and plunged down a 200-foot embankment. Although the State of New York is generally immune from liability for its highway planning decisions, MDL successfully argued that the state violated an established safety standard in the installation of guardrails.
Contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi
The attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi are determined to stand up to local and state agencies to win your claim. Our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys have won a wide variety of car accident cases, including a $1.3 million case against the state of New York in which the state failed to install a guardrail when it was needed, leading to one driver’s death and a passenger’s serious injury.
Don’t let someone else’s negligence affect your life and livelihood. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to an unsafe roadway, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today at (201) 585-9111. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and no fees are due until we win your case.