Dangerous Road Conditions and Accident Lawyers
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Being in an auto accident can be stressful on several levels. And once the initial shock has worn off, the questions begin. Did you suffer any injuries? Who was to blame? Was the accident caused by poorly-marked road construction? Or by a road hazard? Will I need to file a claim? And who do I file against?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by dangerous road conditions, the question of who is to blame can often be a complicated issue. By hiring an auto accident attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.; you have someone to help guide you through the maze of regulations, who can identify who holds liability, and who can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Is the Accident Your Fault?
Michigan has what we could call a diverse climate. We can get a lot of snow and our fair share of rain too. And while there are many things about the Michigan weather that we love, it’s fair to say that the poor driving conditions is not one of them.
But if the accident occured in these dangerous driving conditions, who holds liability? If you were traveling at speeds deemed excessive for the weather conditions at the time of the accident and other vehicles were involved, then you may be held liable.
While Michigan’s no-fault law would normally protect you from being sued in the event of an accident, an exception to that protection is if you are more than 50% to blame. So, if you were speeding in poor weather and hit another vehicle, then you would be found liable.
Car Insurance and Coming Changes
One big disadvantage of Michigan’s no-fault law has been the insurance costs it puts on drivers. In fact, car insurance rates in Michigan are higher than anywhere else in the country, a staggering 83% higher than the national average rate. However, that is all about to change in July, 2020, and the new law will have dramatic effects on car insurance costs.
What Factors Determine Road Accident Liability?
Other than bad weather, did any other factors contribute to the accident? These could include things such as:
- Road signs which were missing or damaged
- Damage to the road surface such as potholes
- No advisory speed warnings such as rumble strips
- Damaged or missing guardrails
- Poor or faded road markings
- Debris left on road
- Poor signage or traffic management at road construction or work areas
- Roads left untreated in snowy or icy weather
What Should I Do When Involved in an Accident in Dangerous Conditions?
Whether the accident is a one-vehicle crash or a multi-vehicle accident, it is essential that you take certain steps – unless injuries prevent you doing so – to protect your claim and to record the incident.
- Call 911 and report the accident giving as many details as you can including any injured persons you know of, whether any property damage has occurred, and whether the accident is presenting a hazard to other traffic.
- Seek medical attention if needed. If you do not, and do not have any associated medical bills, then claiming personal injury later will be extremely difficult.
- If able, talk to any witnesses and collect their contact details.
- If possible, take pictures and videos which can be used as evidence when trying to prove liability. These can include recording the scene as a whole, all vehicles involved in the accident, any damaged road surface which contributed to the accident, any damaged signs, debris, or any other contributory factors.
This evidence may be crucial in supporting any claim you make. But you also need to collect evidence regarding the effects of the accident. This includes:
- All medical records and related expenses. Doctors’ bills, surgical costs, rehabilitation costs, and any expenses incurred in traveling to medical appointments.
- Lost income. This can include lost overtime opportunities, bonuses, commission, pension fund contributions. An insurance company may not always advise you of the fact that all these can be counted.
- Write up more notes about the accident. Understandably, many people are in shock immediately after any accident and may recall more details later.
- Road details. If dangerous conditions existed, they may have been recorded by the state agency responsible. You can contact the Michigan Department of Transportation and request relevant surveys. This may help identify liability if an issue had been known about and not remedied.
Do I Need Legal Representation?
In the vast majority of cases, the answer to this question is almost overwhelmingly yes. Where poor or dangerous road conditions are a factor in an auto accident, then deciding liability and seeking compensation can be an extremely complicated process. Having good legal advice and a competent personal injury attorney on your side can make a significant difference to the outcome of your case.
While Michigan has a no-fault law for auto accidents, external factors such as negligence on the part of government agencies, or disregard for the driving conditions from other drivers may affect how the case is dealt with. Michigan’s laws normally protect you – and other drivers – from being sued, but one of the exceptions to this is if you are at fault for an accident in Michigan in which there is wrongful death, or if someone is permanently disfigured or seriously injured.
There is also the insurance company to consider. The fact of the matter is that insurance companies do not like paying out and will do anything to reduce or eradicate any payment due. Hiring a good car accident lawyer at cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can protect you against any attempts by an insurance company to avoid making the full payments due to you.
Who can be Held Liable for a Dangerous Road Accident?
There are a number of circumstances where another party may be found liable in the event of a dangerous road conditions accident.
- Where a driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Where a driver can be proven to have been distracted (using a phone, changing radio channel etc).
- When a driver is speeding or driving aggressively, for example, tailgating.
- Where a driver has violated other traffic laws which may have contributed to the incident.
- If one of the vehicles involved in the accident is found to have had defective parts. This could lead to the auto manufacturer having some or all liability.
- Where dangerous road conditions, including untreated surfaces in winter or unrepaired surface defects, contributed to or caused the accident.
What are the Legal Remedies Involved in a Dangerous Road Accident Claim?
While Michigan’s no-fault law appears fairly simple at first glance, it can get complicated when other factors are added in. Although there may be a 50-50 share of blame as a starting point, increased liability of one party changes that ratio and this can affect what each party is entitled to. Statutes of Michigan law such as the one dealing with comparative fault can have a huge difference on any final settlement.
There are also differing statutes of limitations depending on who the party you are claiming against is such as a government entity. An experienced attorney can help identify any liable parties and what the best legal remedies are.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Dangerous Road Accident Lawsuit?
In almost every single case, yes. Even where any process only involves insurance companies, the settlement they offer is likely to be less than you are entitled to. And when dealing with a government entity or suing a third party such as an auto manufacturer, then you will need the services of an experienced law group to navigate the processes involved and to represent you in court.
Being involved in a car accident is traumatic, but where injuries have been sustained, or where wrongful death has occurred, then the stress and worry after the accident can often be overwhelming. By seeking out a law firm with skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers, you are increasing your chances of a successful outcome and receiving the compensation you are entitled to.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., believes in building strong attorney client relationships and in aiding clients through any and all legal processes involved in their claims. We work on a contingency fee basis which means we only get paid if we win your case. We also offer a free initial appointment to evaluate your case and to advise on what steps to take next. To book a consultation, please call us today toll-free at 1-866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.