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Defects in Design: How to Handle a Personal Injury Caused by Negligent Roadway or Bridge Engineering

Mar 13, 2015 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC

Louisiana is comprised of a complex network of highways, back roads, bridges and bayous. As drivers meander their way from parish to parish, it is not uncommon for road surfaces to appear matured or historic bridges to show their age.

However, these antiquated features can sometimes contribute to more than just a peaceful backdrop – leading to serious roadway accidents and injuries due to faulty design or improper maintenance. If you were recently injured in an accident and believe it may have occurred due to problems with the road surface or insufficient stability on a bridge, our experienced team of car accident attorneys is here to help.

Proving Negligence

As with any auto accident, the key to recovery is proving negligence on the part of one or more persons responsible for the direct cause of the injury. In many auto accident cases, the victim names the other driver involved in the crash, who is obviously implicated as a participant in the collision.

However, in a single-vehicle accident it may be more difficult to determine the root cause of the problem. In accidents involving negligent maintenance or design of a roadway structure, factors could include:

  • Illegible, damaged or non-existent roadway signage
  • Potholes or severely uneven pavement
  • Improper shoulder slope
  • Crooked, narrow or unsupported bridges
  • Malfunctioning traffic signals
  • Lack of guardrails
  • Debris in the roadway

Each of these factors could be a contributing cause to a single-vehicle accident, prompting the next inquiry: who is responsible?

Defective or Dangerous Roadway Liability

Under Louisiana law, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is responsible for the regular upkeep and maintenance of roadways. More specifically, the DOTD must “study, administer, construct, improve, maintain, repair, and regulate the use of public highways and roads.” Therefore, a lawsuit against the DOTD may be one way to recover following a tragic roadway accident. However, as your auto accident attorneys will discuss further, the DOTD is not necessarily liable for every accident or injury occurring on public roadways – only those that are caused by unreasonable failure to maintain public roadways and structures.

Finding negligence on the part of the DOTD generally requires showing some sort of deviation from established and accepted safety standards – either set by the state of Louisiana or national regulations. Moreover, the Louisiana Supreme Court pointed out in the 1989 case Dill v. State, Dep’t of Transp. & Dev. that even proof of adherence to safety standards is not necessarily enough to escape liability – explaining that the proper way to decide if the DOTD is responsible is to determine whether the roadway or bridge in question presented an unreasonable risk of harm to drivers.

Contact Dodson & Hooks APLC to Discuss Your Case Today!

If you were recently injured and believe a defective or malfunctioning roadway issue may be to blame, we encourage you to contact our law office right away to speak with one of our experienced auto accident attorneys. For more information, contact our Baton Rouge office by calling (225) 372-1666.

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