You can be involved in a car accident on any road and at any time, day or night. Many other factors can contribute to accidents, such as distracted driving, drunk driving, low visibility, etc. People do not often think about road hazards as a cause of accidents in Chicago.
The fact is that road hazards are often unavoidable. Along with causing severe, life-changing injuries, road hazard accidents can also lead to fatalities. Due to the seriousness of road hazard accidents, it is smart to contact our experienced car accident lawyers Chicago from Drake & Collopy, P.C., for help determining who is liable and filing a claim to ensure you receive full compensation for your damages and injuries.
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Road Hazards Defined
Before diving into the specifics of liability and compensation, it is important to know what is considered a road hazard. While road hazards can take on many forms, some are more common than others. Common types of road hazards you may encounter include the following:
- Flooding or standing water
- Trees or branches
- Missing guardrails
- Utility issues (i.e., sewer flooding, electrical wires, etc.)
- Construction-related items (i.e., signage, tools, materials, etc.)
- Auto parts and tires
- Loose gravel
- Fallen cargo
- Rough roads
- Uneven expansion joints
- Improper or poor traffic management
Put simply, road hazards can be anything on the road that shouldn’t be there. The presence of road hazards (on any road) increases the potential of an accident significantly.
Road Hazards Don’t Discriminate
If you encounter something unexpected on the road, you may need more time to react to avoid hitting it. In other cases, you may jerk the wheel or slam on the brakes, leading to a different type of accident. Even unsafe roadway designs can cause serious accidents.
Sometimes, road hazard accidents are caused in part by negligent drivers. Distracted driving is a serious concern on Chicago roadways, and when this is combined with a road hazard, the potential for a serious accident is high.
Illinois follows a modified comparative negligence law. This means that if you are injured in an accident caused by a roadway hazard (or any other cause), it’s only possible to receive monetary compensation if it is determined that you are less than 50% at fault for the damages or injuries.
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The Challenges of Determining Fault in Illinois Road Hazard Accidents
Were you involved in an accident caused by a road hazard? If so, determining fault is challenging. Sometimes, road hazards, such as flooded streets due to heavy rains or animals on the street, cannot be avoided and are not anyone’s fault. In these situations, the incident is referred to as an “act of God.”
In other cases, road hazards are caused by someone’s negligence. An example is if a road construction company or the city where you live creates road hazards due to negligence. In this situation, the party responsible for creating the hazard would be considered liable for your accident, injuries, and losses.
Because of how difficult it can be to determine liability, it’s recommended that you hire Chicago personal injury lawyers to help with your situation. They can gather evidence to help determine who should be held liable for the accident you were involved in.
Understanding Who Is Liable for Your Road Hazard Accident
If an unexpected road hazard contributes to your accident, it’s important to determine who is at fault. As mentioned above, there are situations where there will be no at-fault party. This occurs in situations where “acts of God” caused the collision.
However, some natural processes cause road hazards that could be prevented with proper warning to drivers or maintenance.
While this is true, several parties may be at fault for road hazard-related accidents. Some of these parties include the following:
- Property owners: Property owners who live along a road must prevent obstructions or objects from going off their property and into the road. If something from their property is on the road and causes an accident, the property owner would be considered liable for anyone who is injured and the damages that occur.
- Construction contractors and civil engineers: The companies and people who handle the design, construction, maintenance, and repair of roads must do their jobs properly. If a road is designed that is determined to be “inherently” dangerous, then the design firm may be held liable for anyone who is injured because of the identified danger. If a contractor builds a road with improper or inadequate techniques or materials, or if no warnings are posted regarding rough road conditions while construction is being done, and an accident occurs, the contractor or engineer may be liable.
- Drivers: It is not unusual for commercial trucks (or other vehicles) to drop cargo or loads on the highway. For passenger vehicles, debris or boxes may fly off the vehicle, which can cause an accident. In this case, the driver of the vehicle that is responsible for the debris on the road would be responsible for accidents and injuries that occur.
- Government entities: State and local government departments or entities are responsible for maintaining many public roads. If proper maintenance is not done and no warning is provided to drivers about dangerous road conditions, then the government entity may be held liable for accidents and injuries that occur.
- Road equipment and materials manufacturers: If the material a road is made with or equipment used as part of the road does not meet the proper safety standards, and an accident occurs because of it, the manufacturers of the item or items may be liable for accidents.
As you can see, multiple parties may be considered liable for accidents involving road hazards. It is important to have the services of an Illinois car accident lawyer who can review the facts and determine liability in the accident that occurred.
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Types of Injuries You May Sustain in a Road Hazard Accident
The injuries you sustain in an accident caused by a road hazard vary. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, how fast were you going when the collision occurred and did you attempt to miss the hazard before hitting it?
While this is true, some injuries are more common than others in these situations. The most common injuries seen in accidents involving road hazards include the following:
- Rib injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Broken bones
The injuries you sustain can range from minor to severe. In most cases, the more severe and longer-lasting an injury is, the more impact it will have on your life and the more compensation you can receive.
What to Do After a Road Hazard Accident in Chicago?
When determining fault in a road hazard accident, it is necessary to determine what caused it. For example, was it loose cargo from a truck or no warning signage for a rough part of the highway where construction is being done? The cause of the accident will determine liability and is something your attorney can look into.
After an accident, avoid some road hazards; it’s important to take the right steps to preserve evidence related to the case. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to do the following:
- Contact the police: Contact the authorities after an accident involving property damage or an injury. They will come to the scene and create an official police report citing the cause of the accident, which can help your attorney determine liability.
- Document the scene: If you are seriously injured, you won’t be able to do this. For minor injuries, safely document the scene. Be sure to take photos of the road conditions, hazards that led to the accident, and other factors that may have contributed to your injuries.
- Get witness information: Talk to any witnesses and request their contact information. This can be beneficial in determining liability in your lawsuit.
Taking the right steps after a road hazard accident is important to protect your right to compensation.
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Damages You Can Recover in Road Hazard Accidents
If you are involved in an accident caused by a road hazard, it may be possible for you to recover the following damages from the liable party:
- Property damage (repair or replacement of your vehicle and other belongings)
- Lost wages and reduced future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
It is important to note that every road hazard accident is unique. Because of this, you may not recover the same damages that someone in a similar situation would.
Tips for Avoiding Road Hazard Accidents
There are several steps you can take to help reduce the possibility that you will be involved in a road hazard accident. Some of these steps include the following:
Avoid Distracted Driving
If you take your eyes off the road, even for a second, you may be involved in a road hazard accident. Because of this, you need to avoid texting, eating, grooming, or doing anything else that takes your attention off the road ahead.
Driving too closely to the vehicle ahead of you may make it impossible to see hazards in the road ahead. Even if the driver in front of you avoids the hazard, you may be unable to do the same.
Always Scan the Road Ahead
Be sure to always scan the road ahead of you. Doing this will allow you to see any other vehicles that have stopped or swerved to miss a hazard. It also helps you drive more carefully.
Use Your Headlights
If you are driving at night, turn your headlights on. Doing this makes it easier to see debris on the road or other hazards you must avoid.
Related Article: HOW MANY PEOPLE GET HIT BY A CAR IN CHICAGO EACH YEAR?
Keep Your Vehicle Well Maintained
If your vehicle is not well-maintained, it can result in accidents. An example would be your tires. If worn or even under-inflated, they can blow out, leaving pieces of the tire scattered on the road. Ensure that your vehicle is in good repair and that no issues like this will occur while driving.
Secure Cargo and Loads
This applies to commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. Ensure anything being moved in a trailer, truck bed, luggage rack, or another location is properly secured so it doesn’t fall onto the road.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Chicago for Help with Your Claim
Road hazards can occur on any road or highway and appear anytime. Because of this, you must remain diligent and take steps to prevent an accident.
If you are involved in a road hazard car accident, contact our legal team at Drake & Collopy, P.C. We can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to after this accident.
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