In addition to the causes we commonly think of for motor vehicle accidents, such as negligent drivers and drunk drivers, it’s also important to consider factors separate from the motorists and their vehicles, including roadway design defects, improper construction of the roadway, and traffic signals, signage, and safety devices that may be inadequate or missing at the scene and that can cause or contribute to the causation of an accident. Also, inadequate or improper maintenance of the roads and these associated features, may lead to them not functioning properly and causing accidents.
Investigation and Deadlines
When evaluating the possibility that roadway design defects or maintenance problems caused an accident, it’s critical to determine just who was responsible for the roadway where the accident occurred. In California, this will generally be either the state’s Department of Transportation — also known as CalTrans — or the local city or county where the road is located. Determining this responsibility may take some investigation as, for example, some stretches of state highways in cities may be specified by statute as being the responsibility of CalTrans, while others have been transferred to the care of the local municipalities. There are also important time deadlines associated with determining the public agency responsible for potential roadway design defects or maintenance problems, since the deadline for filing an injury claim with public agencies in California is only six months — much shorter than the two-year statute of limitations deadline that applies in most (but not all) injury claims against other types of potential defendants. This establishes a relatively short period of time within which to identify any and all public agencies that may be responsible for the roadway design defects or other roadway problems.