Can I Sue the City or State for a Crash Caused by a Poorly Designed Roadway?

As leading accident attorneys in Orange County, CA, we’ve helped countless injury victims pursue the compensation they deserve after a devastating car crash. Need help with your claim? You’ve come to the right place. Contact Case Barnett Law to get started today. 

Countless car accidents occur in California each year, and while many are clear-cut, others are more complex. Most motor vehicle accidents happen because of one or more drivers’ errors; determining liability is relatively straightforward in these cases. However, not all car accidents are caused by humans. 

Sometimes, devastating car accidents occur because of environmental features, such as poor roadway design. Although these instances lack a clear human culprit, that doesn’t mean that injury victims are without legal recourse. If they can prove that a poorly designed roadway caused their wreck and resulting injuries, accident victims may be able to sue the at-fault government entity. 

If you were injured in a car accident that you believe happened because of a hazardous roadway design, Case Barnett Law may be able to help. This article will explain everything you need to know about suing the city or state for a crash caused by a poorly designed roadway, including the role of sovereign immunity, the California Tort Claims Act, and more. 

Are you drowning in medical bills after a car accident you didn’t cause? You don’t have to suffer in silence — an experienced car accident attorney can help you pursue justice. Call our law firm at (949) 409-0055 to explore your legal options. 

Understanding Sovereign Immunity in California

Historically, the legal concept of sovereign immunity has protected government entities from most types of lawsuits. However, it is not absolute under modern U.S. law. Every state in the U.S. has legislation that waives sovereign immunity to varying degrees, providing individuals with legal recourse for addressing grievances where the government might be at fault. 

California Tort Claims Act (CTCA)

In the Golden State, the California Tort Claims Act (CTCA) governs how and when claims against California governmental entities can be filed. The CTCA also outlines the processHighway in California for filing a claim, requiring adherence to the following guidelines: 

  • Filing requirements. An initial claim against a governmental entity must be filed within six months of the incident, and the nature of the accident must be detailed, including the alleged negligence and desired damages. 
  • Government response period. The government has 45 days to respond to the initial filing. The claimant may file a lawsuit if it rejects or fails to respond to the claim. 
  • Statute of limitations. If a claim is rejected, the claimant must initiate the lawsuit within six months. Failure to adhere to this timeline can result in ineligibility to pursue further legal action. 

If you file a claim according to the CTCA’s guidelines, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for your damages. To do so, however, you will need to prove negligence. 

Establishing Negligence in Car Accident Cases

As with most personal injury claims, securing compensation for an accident claim against the government requires establishing liability. To hold the at-fault governmental agency liable, you will need to demonstrate negligence in the following four elements: 

  1. Duty of care. Plaintiffs need to prove that the governmental entity owed them a duty of care, i.e., a reasonably safe roadway.
  2. Breach of duty. Next, they will need to demonstrate that the entity breached that care, i.e., was negligent in designing the roadway. 
  3. Causation. A plaintiff will also need to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident.
  4. Damages. Lastly, a plaintiff must demonstrate that they suffered actual damages as a result of the accident. 

If a plaintiff meets the criteria for suing the government and can demonstrate negligence through these four elements, they can pursue compensation through a lawsuit. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to secure the settlement they deserve. 

Legal Challenges in Suing the Government

As you might imagine, suing a government entity is challenging. Plaintiffs in cases against the government may be met with certain difficulties, including the following: 

  • Immunity exceptions. It’s important to understand that some aspects of the government are still protected by sovereign immunity, particularly ones involved in discretionary decisions.
  • Accessing key evidence. In lawsuits against the government, plaintiffs may struggle to access the evidence they need to prove their claim. Getting their hands on documentation like road design plans, maintenance records, and other evidence means navigating government bureaucracies, often to no avail. 
  • Resourced legal defense teams. Government defense teams are among the most well-resourced in the legal world, meaning that litigation is often a lengthy, complex process for plaintiffs. 

Despite these challenges, plaintiffs can still prevail in their claims against the government if they have key documentation and a top-tier attorney. However, not all injury and accident attorneys are equally equipped to prosecute these cases. 

Case Barnett Law: Top Car Accident Attorneys in Orange County, California

Make no mistake: Suing a city or state for a crash caused by a poorly designed roadway is a challenging endeavor. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it. When you’re ready to fight for the compensation and justice you deserve, the Orange County car accident lawyer team at Case Barnett Law can help you approach your case with confidence and efficiency. Plus, getting started with us is easy. Contact our law office online for a free consultation with a dedicated attorney today.

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