If you're driving down the road on your motorcycle and a car makes an illegal turn in front of you, the at-fault driver pays for the damages that they caused. But what about motorcycle accidents caused by road conditions?
Who pays then?
If the road conditions are caused by someone's negligence, whether it is the government, a private individual, or a company, they might be liable for the accident - you have an expectation that the roadways will be kept safe and free of hazards.
If you've been involved in a motorcycle crash caused by road conditions, call the SC motorcycle accident lawyers at Axelrod and Associatesnow to find out how we can help - we have the experience you need to recover full and fair compensation after a motorcycle crash, and, more importantly, we care about motorcyclists and the condition of SC's roadways.
When are Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Road Conditions?
Most highways and city streets are not designed with motorcycles in mind. Yet, municipalities and business owners still have a duty to design and maintain roads that are safe for all travelers - including motorcyclists.
Motorcycle accidents are caused by road conditions when the roads are poorly designed or when the roads are not properly maintained. Some examples include:
- Insufficient lighting;
- Unnecessarily dangerous intersections;
- Curves or other road hazards that are not properly marked;
- Lane shifts or turning lanes that are not properly marked;
- Dangerous traffic patterns;
- Tree branches or other plants that are hanging too low or otherwise blocking the roadway;
- Poor drainage that causes flooding and standing water;
- Gravel or sand that is left in the roadway; or
- Excessive grass clippings that are left in the roadway.
When there are road hazards that cannot be repaired immediately, state or local government should post appropriate warning signs to let you know of the upcoming dangerous conditions. If they do not correct the hazardous condition or adequately warn motorcyclists, the state or municipality may be liable for your accident.
Who do You Sue When Motorcycle Accidents are Caused by Road Conditions?
If you are involved in a single motorcycle crash that was not caused by someone else's negligence, you may not have any recourse to recover damages other than your own insurance policies.
On the other hand, when someone else is responsible for motorcycle accidents caused by road conditions, we can file suit against the responsible party, hold them accountable, and hopefully motivate them to get the hazardous conditions fixed before someone else is hurt or killed...
When the Government Fails to Maintain Safe Roads
Can you sue the government?
You can, although it may be an uphill battle. When a government agency or government employee is responsible for motorcycle accidents caused by road conditions, you may be able to file suit in one of two ways:
- A SC Tort Claims Act lawsuit: you must name the municipality or government agency responsible, the statute of limitations is two years instead of three (with some exceptions), and your damages are limited (no punitive damages, for example); or
- A federal 18 USC Section 1983 lawsuit: you must name the individual responsible for the accident, the statute of limitations is three years instead of two, your damages are not limited, but you must also name a civil right (based on statute or a constitutional right) that was violated.
In most cases that involve motorcycles accidents caused by road conditions, a Tort Claims Act lawsuit will be appropriate, although there may be situations where you could file a 1983 action instead of or in addition to the Tort Claims Act lawsuit.
When Individuals Cause Hazardous Road Conditions
What about when the hazardous road conditions were caused by an individual or a corporation?
If an individual is weed eating along the roadside and leaves vegetation scattered over the road, they might be liable for your motorcycle crash if they did not clean off the roadway or post adequate warnings.
If a company has heavy truck traffic coming and going from their gravel parking lot and leaves a trail of loose gravel covering the roadway, that company may be responsible for the motorcycle crash caused by the gravel.
Construction companies, individuals, and road crews (employed by the government) may leave debris or other materials in the roadway that result in motorcycle accidents caused by road conditions.
When we investigate your crash, we will help you to identify all possible defendants who were responsible for the accident, negotiate a settlement for maximum damages whenever possible, or file suit on your behalf to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation.
When Another Driver Contributes to the Motorcycle Crash
Motorcycle accidents caused by road conditions may involve other motorists.
You may have a claim against the person, company, or governmental entity that caused the hazardous road conditions, but you may also have a claim against any other motorists who contributed to the crash.
For example, if another driver forces you onto the shoulder where you discover there is no shoulder or the shoulder is soft clay, the negligent driver is liable for your injuries.
But, if the governmental agency responsible for the highway failed to warn about the non-existent or soft shoulder, you may also have a claim against the government for creating the hazardous condition.
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident caused by road conditions, your SC motorcycle accident attorney on the Axelrod team will investigate your crash to determine who was responsible, whether it was the government, an individual, or a corporation.