Accidents are sometimes caused by a defect in the road or highway rather than another driver's negligence. Highway and road defects may include obstructions, potholes, ridges, drops in the edge of pavement, improperly marked construction zones, and other hazards. These dangers may be grounds for a personal injury claim against the government. Like other property owners, the government owes a duty to keep a road or highway free from defects that increase the risk of harm to the public. At the Fine Law Firm, our car accident attorneys may be able to help people in Albuquerque and the surrounding communities pursue compensation for injuries arising out of road defects.Proving Liability for Highway Defects
In New Mexico, as in other states, governmental entities and public employees acting within the scope of their duties enjoy what is called "sovereign immunity." Under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, you cannot sue the state unless your case falls within an exception—an area where the state has waived its immunity. The law allows an exception for lawsuits against the state for the failure to maintain a highway.
However, if the defect is a design or planning defect, as opposed to a maintenance defect, the state keeps its sovereign immunity and damages cannot be recovered. Accordingly, some personal injury cases turn on the issue of whether the defect that caused the accident was a maintenance issue or a design issue. Generally, the state has a duty to correct any safety issues or dangerous conditions, whether or not they were caused by a design issue. If the state knows or should know of a dangerous condition, it is required to take measures to fix the problem.
Liability for a particular danger or defect generally lies with the agency that is responsible for the construction and has control of the location of the danger. In some cases, a private company with a government contract to make repairs, perform construction, or maintain the road may also be responsible and face a civil suit for damages.
If you are hurt by a highway or road defect, you would need to prove that the defendant entity owed drivers a duty of care to investigate and repair dangers, that it failed to perform that duty, that the neglect resulted in a defect or hazard, that the hazard caused your accident, and that you incurred damages. When you are suing a government entity, you will need to give written notice within a short window of time, generally within 90 days of the accident. If you have not given the appropriate notice within the requisite time period, you may not be able to continue with your lawsuit.Seek Compensation with an Albuquerque Attorney after a Motor Vehicle Collision
Highway defects or road defects can result in serious injuries. At the Fine Law Firm, our experienced motor vehicle collision lawyers know what procedures Albuquerque residents need to follow to pursue compensation from the government. We can help you seek the great possible damages available to you under the circumstances. Contact us via our online form or call us at (505) 243-4541 to set up a free consultation. The Fine Law Firm also represents accident victims in Rio Rancho and elsewhere in New Mexico.