A recent report from the national transportation research group TRIP found that more than one third of West Virginia’s roads are in poor to mediocre condition, and as a result, are costing state residents $400 million a year in car repairs.
The TRIP report found that not only were 36% of state roads in poor repair, but also 35% of the state’s bridges. Roads were riddled with pot holes and otherwise difficult to navigate conditions, causing damage to residents’ cars that amounted to $333 per person per year. TRIP presented its findings to the state Senate in hope of encouraging more construction. Its members argued that better roads and bridges could result in more economic development. Governor Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon panel had previously endorsed updating roads and bridges through the use of a $1 billion bond, which would be paid off through tolls on the West Virginia turnpike over the next 30 years. However, that had yet to be acted upon.
The state of West Virginia’s roads is unfair to drivers, who should not have to pay the price of the state’s failure to act. At the same time, the poor condition of the roads could lead to a much more troubling issue: an increase in the number of car accidents.
Typically car accidents occur when one of both drivers are not paying attention or are breaking the traffic laws, such as by speeding or making unsafe lane changes. However, a car accident may also occur through no fault of the driver: if the road conditions are poor and the driver is not adequately warned. A sudden, unexpected large pot hole, for instance, could cause a driver to lose control of his or her car just as easily as if that driver had been struck from behind. Car accidents caused by poor road conditions are much more problematic across the country than many would believe.
In many cases, state and federal agencies are immune from lawsuits, which means that they cannot be sued. However, there are exceptions, and injury caused by poor road maintenance is usually one of them. That said, it is still often quite difficult to get relief from the government agency responsible. An individual must prove that but for the poor road conditions, he or she would not have gotten in the accident, that there were no mitigating factors like alcohol or lack of sleep. Furthermore, the individual must often prove that the government agency knew or should have known about the road conditions, and often the types of lawsuits that meet the immunity exception are quite narrow. Still, those who suffered a serious injury from a car accident caused by poor road conditions should not be discouraged. If you have been in a car accident and feel that poor road maintenance was responsible, contact a West Virginia personal injury attorney today.
The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.