Primarily known as the home of the Atlanta Braves and the hub of Georgia, Atlanta is a thriving city that boasts a population of 463,878 residents. While this has created a diverse and booming economy, it also means that there are more cars on the road than ever. This has become a problem of increasing severity as the state’s roads continue to erode over time, leading to thousands of car accidents every year. Resulting injuries can be painful and even life-threatening and may cost thousands of dollars to treat, so if you or a loved one were recently injured in a car crash that was caused or worsened by a dangerous road condition, it is critical to speak with an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer who can explain your legal options.
Types of Road Hazards
According to The Washington Post, as many as half of all fatal car accidents involve dangerous road conditions, which can range from potholes and crumbling mediums to missing guardrails. Other common examples of dangerous road conditions include:
- Outdated exit ramps;
- Dangerous curves;
- Ineffective road signs;
- Poor lighting;
- The use of inferior materials during construction;
- Unplanned dips and slopes;
- Poor drainage;
- Misplaced utility poles;
- Construction hazards;
- A lack of traffic signals;
- Overhanging trees and other shrubbery;
- Faded lane markers;
- Inadequate shoulders; and
- A lack of reflective markers.
These types of dangerous conditions have a number of possible causes, with the most common including:
- Inferior construction, which includes the use of substandard materials or a failure to adhere to building codes;
- Poor design; or
- Improper maintenance and repair.
Roads are almost always maintained by a city, a state, or the federal government. Unfortunately, government entities are generally immune from being sued. However, in cases involving dangerous roads, plaintiffs can successfully obtain compensation from responsible government employees and agencies for their failures to act reasonably. In exchange, plaintiffs are also required to adhere to specific procedural rules in addition to meeting their burden of proof. For example, injured parties must demonstrate that the party responsible for designing, maintaining, or constructing the road failed to use reasonable care and that the resulting dangerous condition caused their injuries all within a certain time frame. This can be extremely difficult, so it is important for those who have been injured in an accident caused by a dangerous road condition to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the crash.
Filing Notice of a Claim
Before an injured party can even bring a claim against a government agency, he or she must file a notice of a claim within one year of the date that the injury was sustained. The notice must be in writing and mailed to the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services. An additional copy must also be sent to the government entity responsible for the injury. A notice of claim must contain specific information, including:
- The name of the responsible state government entity;
- The date when the accident occurred;
- The location of the accident;
- The amount of loss that the injured party suffered; and
- The act or omission that caused the accident.
The case can only be filed in court if the claim is denied or if three months have passed since the date of filing and the Department of Administrative Services has failed to take further action.
The requirements for filing a notice of claim against a city are the same, although an injured party only has six months to file a notice before the claim will be barred. In these cases, an investigator from the Claims Division of the Department of Law will conduct an investigation into the accident and respond to the claim within one month. If a claim is denied, the injured party can pursue the claim in court. However, if the investigator determines that the city was negligent, he or she will begin the settlement process.
Atlanta has a designated form that potential claimants must fill out as part of the process of submitting a notice of claim. Claimants may also be required to submit supporting documentation, such as:
- Receipts for repair of damaged property;
- A police report;
- Photos of the scene of the accident;
- Copies of medical reports;
- An itemized list of all property damaged in the accident, including descriptions of the items, the brand names, purchase prices, serial numbers, and the date of purchase;
- Two estimates of repair costs;
- A copy of an insurance declaration and the deductible amount; and
- A copy of the vehicle’s registration information.
Although the process can be difficult, it is important to hold the responsible parties accountable in cases involving defective roads and dangerous conditions, not only because government entities are legally responsible for road maintenance, but also because the costs involved with being in this type of accident can be extremely high. Injured parties may be required to pay for hospital bills and vehicle repair (or replacement). These expenses can quickly overwhelm a family’s finances, especially if the injured party was required to take time off from work due to the injury itself or lack of access to transportation. Fortunately, injured parties can recover damages to compensate them for their losses. These damages could include reimbursement for:
- Past and future medical costs;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of future income;
- Property damage; and
- Pain and suffering.
While nothing may be able to return an injured victim to his or her prior physical condition, collecting compensation can go a long way towards allowing him or her to begin the process of recovery.
Contact a Dedicated Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
As the wear and tear on Atlanta roads increases, road conditions continue to worsen. If left unaddressed, simple wear and tear can quickly escalate to dangerous conditions that could leave a driver seriously injured, so if you live in Atlanta and were injured in a car crash caused by a road hazard, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by submitting one of our standard contact forms and a member of our experienced Atlanta auto accident legal team will assist you in setting up a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney who can assess your claim.