Car accidents in Florida are caused by various factors, including the driver, the vehicle, the road conditions, or a combination of these. For example, if a driver was texting while driving, hit a pothole, which caused them to crash into another driver in oncoming traffic, the distracted driver and the road condition played a part in the accident.
In the Sunshine State, car accidents caused by potholes or hazardous highways occur more frequently than you might think. According to the crash statistics released by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), road contributing circumstances accounted for 76,436 injury-causing motor vehicle accidents in 2018, while specifically potholes, ruts, and bumps caused 93 injury accidents.
Car accidents in Florida can be complicated when another driver’s negligence causes the accident. When the cause is related to potholes or other hazardous road conditions, the case presents even more unique legal challenges.
Understanding Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Florida is a no-fault auto insurance jurisdiction. This means that when an accident occurs, victims must file a claim under their own insurance policy for medical benefits coverage. This coverage is typically minimal, limited to $10,000, and does not cover long-term injuries. Recuperating damages for long-term personal injuries is a complicated process. The no-fault system is intended to keep cases outside the state’s courts and within the insurance system.
When injuries are significant, victims can seek legal damages from the driver whose negligence caused the wreck. If the accident was caused by dangerous road conditions like potholes, however, who is responsible?
Car Accidents in Florida Involving Defective Roads
There are many reasons for drivers to be on the road in Florida. Unfortunately, the excess of traffic can lead to an increase in car accidents. Slick road conditions from frequent showers with the relentless heat and humidity can not only reduce visibility for drivers but also put a strain on highway upkeep.
Roads may be defective by failing to maintain them properly. For example, allowing potholes or dangerous levels of surface water from blocked drainage to remain. Highways that are poorly designed can also cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and crash. Poor roads can be related to construction, design, or unsafe speed limits.
Other types of road defects common in Florida include:
- Potholes and cracks in the road surface;
- Lack of rumble strips on highways;
- Hidden, damaged, or missing road signs;
- Insufficient or missing guardrails;
- Uneven surfaces;
- Worn paint markings;
- Drop-offs on the road shoulder;
- Pavement cracking;
- Water puddles and slumps;
- Poor traffic control near construction zones;
- Untreated roads in cold or freezing weather;
- Oil spots.
What Makes Potholes Dangerous on Florida Highways?
Deteriorating highways present a real threat to the public who travel on them every day. In Florida, potholes are a significant problem on both major highways and community streets. Hitting a pothole while driving at a high-speed limit can puncture your tire and cause a sudden change of direction that could cause an accident with the potential to inflict serious harm. These issues are dangerously magnified for motorcyclists. The state of Florida and local government entities are responsible for promptly repairing public roadways when notified of potholes and other hazards.
Who’s Liable for Damages After a Car Accident Caused by Potholes?
In the case of a car accident caused by potholes or any road defect, the local or state government agencies are generally liable if they knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. The state of Florida is responsible for performing inspections, clean-ups, and maintenance using taxpayers’ dollars to keep roads and highways safe. When roads are under repair, the government has a responsibility to warn drivers of the hazard and to fix the problem in a reasonable time.
The conditions that cause potholes or hazardous roads can go on for months or years and potentially cause numerous other car accidents. The recurrence of similar incidents at a single site can alert the government and the public that there’s an issue. Their failure to resolve an apparent problem can be interpreted as negligence.
Call St. Petersburg Trusted Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by potholes or other road conditions in St. Petersburg, you must prove that the road conditions were the direct cause of your accident and resulting injuries. Contacting a trusted car accident attorney is essential to learn your best legal options.
Attorney Frank P. Marsalisi of Marsalisi Law can help determine the cause through a detailed legal investigation and advise you on steps needed to have a successful result. Frank helps victims in St. Petersburg recover after an accident by providing individualized attention to their injury claims. His knowledge and experience in personal injury law involving car and motorcycle accidents have earned him the award of 2020’s Top 3 Personal Injury Lawyers in St. Petersburg. To schedule a free consultation with Frank, call (727) 800-5052 or complete our contact form.
Marsalisi Law is Where Law Gets Personal.