It is impossible to deny the significant pain, suffering, and loss that stem from automobile accidents each and every year. The lion’s share of catastrophic collisions are caused by distracted, impaired or generally negligent motorists whose acts and omissions place fellow citizens in harm’s way. Others may be the result of dangerously defective vehicles or components which fail in such a manner as to produce severe injury or death. Sadly, other injury-producing accidents are ultimately deemed attributable to the poor quality of the roadways themselves, whether because of delayed or neglected maintenance or defective design and planning. Denver car accident attorney, Jeremy Rosenthal, understands the procedural hurdles that can stand in the way of victim’s rights in such cases and stands ready to guide Coloradans through the process of seeking fair financial recovery from all responsible parties.
Assessing the Dangers of Public Roads
Those who travel the roads each day without much thought to the design and maintenance that have gone into them may not immediately appreciate the characteristics that could render those highways and byways especially dangerous to travelers. The fact of the matter is that governmental bodies, including federal, state and local entities, are charged with a duty to design and implement a safe system of roads. Compliance with the standards promulgated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials as well as the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices will generally be the benchmarks by which the success of those agencies will be measured.
When accidents occur, and it is suspected that a dangerous roadway condition may have been to blame, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the roads and signage at issue. Once it has been determined that an unreasonable hazard did indeed exist, it may be possible to pursue compensation from the governmental agency or other party responsible for its existence.
Sovereign Immunity in Colorado
Though it is certainly true that the Colorado Government Immunity Act affords governmental employees, officers, and others rather broad protection against lawsuits, the legislature has seen fit to carve out certain exceptions so that injury victims may be able to secure compensation for particular categories of harm. One such exception permits injury actions against governmental bodies found responsible for the dangerous condition of a public highway, road or street or for the failure to realign a stop sign, yield sign or other traffic control signal on which conflicting directions are displayed.
While the road conditions exception does not explicitly impose a duty on the part of the government to upgrade, modify or improve a roadway, it does include a duty to keep roads in the same general state of repair, efficiency or being as initially constructed and to prevent physical interference with the movement of traffic. Accumulations of snow, ice, gravel or sand can also be found to constitute a dangerous condition when the responsible public body failed to remove or mitigate such accumulations despite having had actual notice and time to sufficiently react to it.
It must be noted, however, that the Colorado Government Immunity Act does not provide victims with an unlimited period of time in which to file claims of this nature, and it imposes strict notice requirements which must be observed before such action may commence. Specifically, anyone intending to initiate suit against a governmental body for an accident attributable to dangerous road conditions must file written notice within 180 days after the injury was discovered, and failure to adhere to this requirement will permanently bar such an action or any subsequent recovery.
Claims Related to Defects and Maintenance
Though the types of road maintenance scenarios leading to injury accidents may seem innumerable, there are some hazards that present themselves more often than others. When those responsible for preventing such conditions from developing are aware of the problems yet still fail in that duty, legal responsibility for the harm sustained can attach. Some common maintenance issues on roadways that precipitate car crashes include:
- failure to maintain functionality of traffic signals
- failure to promptly repair potholes
- failure to clear ice and snow accumulations
- failure to address damage to medians and guardrails
- failure to add traffic signals following increases in regular traffic volume
- failure to address structural concerns relating to bridges
- failure to trim, prune or mow overgrowth of grass or plant material
Design Defect Claims
Flaws in the road design and construction process can also lead to the sort of conditions responsible for severe accidents and the categories of loss they routinely produce. When this is the case, the professional firms with which the government has contracted to build the roadways may also share in legal liability. Instances of road design problems that can precipitate debilitating injury events include:
- poor lighting design
- inadequate allocation of traffic signals
- the absence of guardrails near overhangs
- blind curves
- steep grade in contravention of safety principles
- lack of shoulder
- excessively narrow lanes
What a Lawyer Can Do to Help
All accidents are extremely fact-intensive situations requiring a great deal of investigation and analysis, and those attributable to neglected road maintenance or design defects are no different. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal will immediately launch a detailed examination of the evidence, review police reports, witness statements, and medical records in order to get to the heart of the legal issues presented. By aligning with engineers, accident reconstruction personnel and other experts, he will collaboratively build effective arguments to establish governmental or third-party liability for the harm suffered.
These efforts will be made while also achieving timely compliance with the stringent limitations and notice requirements imposed by Colorado’s Government Immunity Act. Every precaution will be taken to ensure that the victim’s right to pursue compensation is preserved and asserted promptly and aggressively.
Unparalleled Advocacy for Colorado Accident Victims
Everyone who operates a vehicle in Colorado must place a great deal of trust in the governmental bodies charged with constructing and maintaining a safe system of roadways. When that duty is breached, whether because of neglected maintenance, shoddy design or other preventable negligence, the feeling of betrayal can be intense. Considering the severity of the injuries commonly sustained in auto accidents and the financial burdens they impose, there is no substitute for zealous legal advocacy in the aftermath of such an event.
To learn more about how personal injury attorney Jeremy Rosenthal can seek the compensation you need and deserve following a Colorado auto accident, contact his office at 303.825.2223.