You may think that the other party in a car accident is the only one responsible for the accident. That may not be entirely true. Where a car accident happens is part of the story.
The police report may list the other party as responsible—but is that really true? Could there be other factors in part responsible as well as the other driver that contributed to the accident. A police officer is simply observing and notating what they see at the scene of the accident after it happened. They are usually not there when accidents occurred, so they rely on what is observable. Because they may not see everything, their observations are incomplete. They do their best to examine the physical evidence and will sometimes take a few pictures. They will speak with both parties if possible and talk with any available witnesses. They will then summarize this information, and submit their report. The officer may not notice or note any additional road hazards at the scene.
Roads in the aptly named Mountain State of West Virginia tend to be more dangerous. They’re steep, narrow, winding, and incredibly treacherous because they are frequently built on a mountainous landscape. Coupled with a high number of rural roads, where most fatal accidents occur, it’s no wonder driving nearly anywhere here calls for increased safety measures. The condition of the roads are critical, and without proper maintenance and signage, can contribute to an accident.
Dangerous road conditions can exist because of:
• Incorrect design for West Virginia’s mountainous landscape
• Lack of maintenance, such as repairing potholes or replacing ruined asphalt
• Failure to warn drivers of oncoming or upcoming hazards, either with signage or diverting traffic around a dangerous area
• Big trucks and other commercial vehicles cause damage driving on rural roads that aren’t designed for that kind of weight.
If that isn’t enough, obstacles can also make driving a difficult experience in West Virginia. Obstacles like:
- Road debris—rocks, gravel, tree branches, broken glass, loose automotive parts, or other objects that fall in the road
- Potholes – a depression or hole in a road surface caused by wear or sinking.
- Cracked, damaged, or missing asphalt
- Indigenous wildlife wandering into the road like deer, birds, or rodents
- Inclement Weather
- Overgrown or fallen trees
Of course, assuming you did nothing wrong and are the victim of the car accident, the other person is responsible for the accident. That may be true, but their actions that led to the accident could be the result of a bad road, road design, or other conditions for which they are not responsible. Perhaps, the other driver swerved to avoid an obstacle. In this case, the state or local municipality could also be held responsible for the accident.
Who is responsibility for different road conditions in West Virginia depends on where the road is and what kind of road it is.
• State highways fall under the WV Department of Transportation, and are the responsibility of the Commissioner of Highways. The five categories of state roads are:
o State local service
o Park and forest
• Streets in Charleston fall under the Street Department, which falls under the Department of Public Works. They are responsible for street maintenance, including keeping them safe for everyone to use.
• A construction company that failed to design, build or maintain the road properly may also bear responsibility
If the road conditions are the primary cause of the accident, an accident victim may be able to file a claim with the state or local agency responsible for the road’s upkeep.
Filing a claim against a governmental agency is not like filing an insurance claim. The filing deadline is short, and an investigation is required to prove that the agency was responsible. You may need to work with Charleston truck and car accident lawyer, Chad Love, to ensure that your claim is investigated and handled properly and by any deadlines.
Charleston, WV Car Accident Attorney Chad Love
We’ve been helping West Virginians for over 25 years with vehicle accidents and other personal injury claims. Getting fair and full compensation for your damages, both medical and physical is only right. Speak with Chad Love before you speak with anyone else about your accident, and that includes the “friendly” insurance representative who calls you. Just politely decline to talk. Obtain your lawyer and defer all negotiation to Attorney Love.
If you’ve been involved in a Charleston, WV car accident, contact us as soon as possible at The Love Law Firm, or call us at (304) 344 5683. Your consultation is free, and we look forward to discussing your situation.