Who Is Liable for a Car Accident Caused by Bad Road Conditions?

Sometimes car accidents are not caused by a negligent driver but rather bad road conditions. In these cases, a municipal authority may be liable if the road condition was preventable.

Who Is Liable for a Car Accident Caused by Bad Road Conditions?

Common Road Conditions That Lead to Car Accidents

Some of the most common dangerous road conditions that lead to car accidents often fall into three categories: road design, construction, or maintenance. For example:

  • Debris on the road.
  • Large cracks in the road.
  • Lack of guardrails or dividers.
  • Faded lines marking lanes, road borders, or intersections.
  • Poor lighting on streets and at intersections.
  • Pavement defects (e.g., potholes, uneven pavement, resurfaced pavement, and grooved pavement).
  • Poorly designed intersections.
  • Lane shifts and turn lanes without visible signs or markings.
  • Sand or loose gravel on the pavement.

Hazardous weather (e.g., flooding, severe storms, etc.) is also often to blame for dangerous road conditions. In these situations, unless another careless driver is involved, another party is typically not liable.

Who is Responsible For Poorly Maintained Roads?

The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is generally responsible for maintaining and improving public roads—for example, snow removal, accident traffic control, repaving, repainting, etc. If maintenance is not completed correctly, leading to a preventable accident, NDOT may be liable for the resulting damages. However, in some situations, it is also possible that a private contractor or another agency may be liable or partially responsible for the failure to maintain or repair a road. In these cases, a thorough investigation must determine whether multiple parties are jointly responsible.

Can Local or State Governments Bear Responsibility?

Under Chapter 41 of the Nevada Annotated Code (NAC), local and state government agencies are immune from civil liability in many circumstances. However, when it comes to accidents caused by bad road conditions, sovereign immunity is waived for injured claimants if the crash was caused due to the negligence of the state government or a government employee while carrying out their job duties. As a result, you will need proof of their negligence to hold NDOT responsible for your collision.

Other specific rules also apply to injury claims against government agencies. For example, to begin the process, you must file a written and signed claim form with the Nevada State Board of Examiners that includes:

  • The amount of damages you are seeking;
  • A description of how the injury and/or property damage occurred;
  • An explanation of why you believe the state is responsible, and
  • Copies of medical reports from any physician who treated or examined you. For property damage, a statement listing the property’s value, the cost of repairs, and the salvage value.

The attorney general’s office will either approve or deny the claim. If approved, the state will cover the damages, but if denied, your only option is to file a civil lawsuit. However, claims against the government are capped to $100,000. That being said, you only have two years from the date of the injury to pursue compensation by filing suit. If you miss this deadline, the court can reject your claim. Contact a car accident lawyer in Las Vegas to learn more about your legal options.