In 2020, there were 327,390 vehicle crashes in the state of New York. Unfortunately, 945 of them were fatal. The reasons for these accidents vary, and each one is different. However, dangerous road conditions are sometimes the reason for an accident in New York. Potholes, bumpy pavement, road debris, disabled street lights — you have probably experienced these conditions if you’re a New York driver. Many times, they are no more than an inconvenience.
However, seemingly minor annoyances can become dangerous conditions. Hitting a pothole at 60 miles per hour can cause damage to your car or even make you lose control. A driver who fails to secure the load in a pickup truck can leave a hazardous trail of debris for other drivers. Faint road lines can leave you confused about where you should drive. If you have an accident due to dangerous road conditions, there is some information you should know.
Dependable road conditions start with good design. The Association for Safe International Road Travel advocates for safe, well-planned and maintained roads.
Well-constructed roads may include these protection measures as needed:
- Speed bumps
- Traffic circles or roundabouts
- Speed cameras
- Lane narrowing
- Medians and barriers to separate two-way traffic
A well-designed road doesn’t end with these factors, though. The road’s infrastructure must stay intact. Responsible parties must keep road surfaces maintained and promptly remove road hazards. High-speed traffic must have roads with wide enough lanes. Areas with large populations need faster traffic diverted. Slow- and high-speed vehicles need proper separation.
Pedestrians and Cyclists
Drivers and passengers aren’t the only ones who need protection, though — not by far. In fatal crashes, 54% of victims are pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists.
Good infrastructure includes safety measures for bicyclists and pedestrians:
- Dedicated lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists
- Crosswalks and enhancements
- Raised islands
- Enough time for people to cross the street
- Vehicle-free zones
Unacceptable Road Conditions
In 2020, the Bureau of Transportation reported that 74% of roads in the state of New York were acceptable according to the International Roughness Index. The index measures road characteristics that affect vehicle dynamics. Unfortunately, this statistic means that the Bureau of Transportation measures 26% of New York roads below acceptable levels. These roads may be more hazardous for drivers.
You may find yourself driving on a road that has hazards such as:
- Blocked signage due to tree or bush overgrowth
- Faded road lines
- Malfunctioning street lights
- Potholes and crumbling pavement
- Poorly marked work zones
- Misplaced temporary or permanent signage
- Lack of guardrails
- Steep drop-offs
- Ice and snow buildup
Unfortunately, the lack of maintenance can cause road hazards that lead to an accident.
Road Maintenance Responsibility
The responsibility for road maintenance can vary. Some neighborhoods have private roads that residents pitch in to maintain. Other roads fall under the responsibility of city, county, state or federal governments.
If you sustain damage due to poor conditions or hazards on a government-maintained road, you may be able to file a claim. However, you are responsible for proving the government failed to maintain the road reasonably. You must prove:
- The government knew or should have reasonably known about the conditions.
- The government did not make repairs in a reasonable amount of time.
Sometimes drivers carrying cargo fail to secure it, and items fall onto the road. Other times, drivers deliberately dump rubbish. Road debris can cause accidents. If you can find the responsible driver, you may be able to hold the person liable for the damage.
Work zones are often hazardous for drivers. If you have an accident due to unsafe conditions in a construction zone, you may be able to hold the construction company liable.
Of the nearly 5.8 million vehicles that crash each year, about 21% relate to weather conditions. Weather can significantly impact your ability to drive safely. It can affect a driver’s capacity to see clearly, brake effectively and navigate the road.
Bad Weather Conditions
Adverse weather conditions for driving include:
- Very high winds
These circumstances can happen together, of course. Heavy winds can blow snow across the road in a snowstorm. You may find yourself on a dark, foggy road after heavy rain. Black ice can coat the streets after an ice storm. Snow and ice are hazardous, but perhaps surprisingly, 70% of weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement. While we usually get snow during the colder months, New York roads can be wet at any time of the year, making rain a more likely accident culprit.
Driving Carelessly in Bad Weather
Not everyone drives carefully and defensively in lousy weather. Imagine you’re on the road during adverse conditions. You may meet someone driving too fast on a wet, curvy road or icy highway or forgetting to turn on the headlights during a heavy rainstorm. Their carelessness can lead to an accident with you.
Making a Claim
After an accident, you want to get back to normal as soon as possible. That’s easy to understand. You’ll need to take action and go through the proper channels to get through the claim process smoothly and efficiently.
It’s important for you to gather as much information as you can following an accident in dangerous road conditions, including:
- The date and time you were driving
- The exact location of the hazardous area
- A description of the hazard
- The road’s name
- The direction you were driving
- Witness information, including names, addresses and phone numbers
If you can do so safely, take photos to document the hazard and your car’s condition.
Once you’ve decided to file a claim, you need to move fast. You have 90 days to serve a notice of intention to file a claim if the owner of the road is New York City or the state of New York. Other municipalities, villages or towns may have their own time requirements.
Call a Dangerous Road Conditions Accident Lawyer
You have plenty to worry about after a car accident that wasn’t your fault. You may be wondering who will pay for the damage done to your car. You may also be thinking about medical bills if you were hurt — not to mention lost wages due to time away from work. It’s a lot to handle while knowing you may have a limited time to do everything.
A New York accident lawyer can be your best asset after you’ve had a crash. Navigating the details of filing a claim can be tricky. Pursuing one against the government requires specific paperwork. You also have to make sure you file a claim in time. Cellino Law is here to help. We offer you a free consultation about your case. You can take the opportunity to talk about your accident with us confidentially. You can also ask us questions regarding your case and learn more about the claim process. We can allow you to take some of the stress off your mind so that you can focus on getting better.
The dangerous road conditions accident lawyers at Cellino Law want to help you. We are ready to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us today about your case.