Experienced Road Hazard Injury Lawyers Helping Victims Determine Responsibility and Compensation Options in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
Road hazards are a common cause of accidents. They pose a risk to car and truck drivers, motorcycle riders, bus drivers, and pedestrians. The most dangerous aspect of road hazards is that they are unexpected and often impossible to avoid. They can be caused environmentally, infrastructurally, or due to other factors.
Encountering road hazards such as potholes, debris, or animal crossing can be an unpleasant experience. While some situations may be your fault, you are not responsible for ensuring the roads are in good condition. If you were in a car accident or another vehicle accident and feel that poor road conditions played a role, our personal injury lawyers can help. We will evaluate your claim and establish liability in Neptune, Holmdel, Tinton Falls, Hazlet, Long Branch, Mantoloking, Keansburg, Sea Bright, and Ocean and Monmouth County areas throughout Southern New Jersey. Contact us by filling out the online form or calling (732) 303-7857. Our roadway hazard claims operate on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t have to pay legal fees unless we obtain compensation for you.
The Unexpected Hazards of the Road in NJ
Certain climactic conditions usually cause environmental road hazards. Rain, snow, or ice can slippery the road, limiting traction and causing skidding. Particularly wet road surfaces can cause hydroplaning with as little as 0.75 inches of water on the road’s surface at a speed of 35mph or more. Flooding can limit visibility and cause vehicles to stall out or float if the water is high enough. Debris, such as rocks, branches, boxes, blown-out tires, or other materials which have fallen from a delivery truck or open truck bed, can create a dangerous road hazard.
Potholes can damage wheel rims, tires, suspensions, or vehicles’ axles. Akin to potholes, construction zones can create cracks or uneven surfaces in the asphalt, causing some drivers to lose control if they drive too fast through the area. Roadwork areas may have closed or narrow lanes, changing traffic patterns, gravel patches, or open joints that can destabilize the center of gravity for motorcycles and other vehicles.
It is comforting for most who live in more rural areas to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but with that comes other road hazards. Woodland creatures such as deer, raccoons, opossums, foxes, and bunnies have been known to scamper across a rural road or two, surprising the driver, who could lose control of their car. It doesn’t happen often, but a farmer’s damaged fence could allow livestock or horses into the road. You certainly don’t expect to see a small herd of farm animals on the shortcut you take when highway traffic is too heavy. Some people let their dogs and cats run willy-nilly without considering the hazard that could be for other drivers. Instinctually, we avoid hurting the animals that cross our path, which can cause an accident that could have been avoided had the owners been responsible.
Vines and low-hanging branches can cover road signs and stoplights. If you are unfamiliar with the area and don’t know if the intersection is a 4-way stop or if the east-to-west traffic has the right of way, you could have an accident.
Fog and poor street lighting are dangerous enough alone but can have deadly consequences when they occur simultaneously. Perhaps it isn’t as dangerous if you know where you are, but imagine being lost with two feet of visibility on the road with poor street lighting. It is an accident waiting to happen, especially at night.
Pedestrians and cyclists can also be road hazards. Pedestrians who avoid walking on the sidewalk or attempting to cross a busy street without using a crosswalk can become a hazard to motorists. Cyclists who turn in front of a car or dart to avoid a hazard could also cause an accident.
Potential Accidents That Can Occur as a Result of Road Hazards
You wouldn’t think a pothole or a little rain could cause an accident, but things can go pear-shaped in seconds, depending on the circumstances. A slippery road, be it snow-covered, icy, or saturated with rain, can cause drivers to lose control, veer off the road, collide with a barrier, roll over, or strike another car. Rear-end collisions are, unfortunately, frequent occurrences when ice, oil, or gravel covers the road.
Head-on collisions or collisions against stationary objects are the most dangerous types of accidents caused by road hazards. Swerving to avoid debris on a two-lane road, braking heavily through a long, deep puddle, or dodging a fallen tree branch can cause you to swerve into the opposite lane or overcorrect off the road into a tree or other object.
Multi-vehicle pileups can happen when a semi-truck loses its cargo. Accidents and pileups have been caused by everything from actual live poultry to sesame oil. Bumper-to-bumper traffic can become a crunching-car parking lot if drivers can’t avoid the hazards or the cars around them. Who hasn’t seen a multi-car collision on the news on a snowy highway that extends for several yards? If you are between two vehicles, it is a front and rear collision caused by the same hazard.
Losing control of your car can have any mix of causes entirely out of your control. As you can see, the number of hazards and the types of accidents they can cause create a plethora of deadly combinations for even the most cautious drivers.
Frequently Sustained Injuries in Road Hazard Crashes
Being rear-ended in moderate to heavy traffic typically does not result in life-threatening injuries. That is not to say that your injuries, such as whiplash or broken clavicle, aren’t serious, but they usually don’t require hospitalization for more than a few nights.
Head-on collisions or multi-impact accidents are the most dangerous. They can produce brain injuries and concussions, skull fractures, spinal fractures, and spinal cord damage or severing. Spinal injuries can result in total or partial paralysis, certainly a life-changing injury. Amputations of extremities, exposed fractures, sepsis, facial fractures, and scarring are injuries seen in these kinds of accidents. Serious injuries such as internal hemorrhaging, pneumothorax, a ruptured spleen, lacerated liver, or a perforated abdomen will require surgical intervention.
Safety Habits to Avoid Road Hazard-Related Accidents
Regular vehicle maintenance is an excellent way to prevent an accident. If your car is in proper working order, you can avoid trouble when you need it to respond as expected. No matter how good your brakes are, an accident is likely if you are following too closely behind a car that brakes suddenly to avoid a road hazard.
It is vital to comply with other safe driving behaviors, such as using your turn signals, following the speed limit, and adhering to traffic signals. Signs that indicate falling rocks or animal crossings require your attention. Distractions such as eating, smoking, drinking, talking on your phone, texting, checking your GPS, or others can contribute to your inability to avoid a road hazard.
Keep an eye out for pedestrians, especially close to schools or universities. Be particularly cautious when approaching intersections, as not all pedestrians follow the appropriate traffic laws.
In inclement weather, slow down. Adjust your driving by reducing speed, keeping your lights on, and being attentive to your environment. Consider taking a break from driving while the worst of the weather passes. Running 30 minutes behind is better than not arriving at all. Not all drivers feel confident driving in bad weather, which is OK as long as they do what makes them comfortable.
Lastly, plan your route in advance if possible. Gone are the days of gigantic paper maps spread on the car’s hood, indicating no pending complications. Using a navigation tool, you can follow the route you will be taking and know about hazards such as construction sites or heavy traffic ahead of time.
Compensatory Damages in New Jersey Road Hazard Accident Cases
The state of New Jersey allows for two categories of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. Damages such as medical bills, lost wages (past, present, and future), property damages, and others that require monetary expenditures are categorized as economic damages. Non-economic damages are pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of consortium, PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Punitive damages may also be an alternative if someone’s extreme recklessness caused the accident.
Accidents Caused by Road Hazards and Defects: Who Is at Fault?
The responsibility for a road hazard accident is challenging to assess. For example, if a dump truck left some gravel on the road and continued on its way, no one would know who had left the gravel there. If there is a major spill on the highway, it is easier to identify who is responsible. Local, state, and federal governments may be responsible for dangerous potholes and other deteriorated road conditions. Still, one must prove that the government agency was made aware of the specific problem and failed to correct it. An example would be a road that doesn’t drain rainwater properly, causing large puddles or ice patches to form. If the government is aware of the issue and does nothing, they can be held liable. If a deer runs across the road, causing an accident, you can’t sue the deer. But the government could be liable if there was no signage warning of the possibility of animal crossings.
Obstacles to Determine Liability for a Road Hazard Accident in NJ
The main issue when dealing with road hazards is assigning blame. You need to prove that an avoidable mistake was made and that you are injured because of someone else’s negligence. For example, if you are driving in heavy rain and fog and slide off the road in a tight curve (for which there was a sign), there isn’t anyone to blame; therefore, no one is liable. However, liability can be determined if you are driving down that same road under the same conditions but hit a pothole you couldn’t see because there were no streetlights.
Another issue is proving causation. You must establish a direct link between the road hazard as the cause of the accident and your injuries as a direct result. This can prove challenging because other factors, such as driver error, mechanical issues, and environmental factors, can also contribute to the accident. If you bear some blame for the accident, you can be accused of comparative negligence, which may impact the damages you will receive.
Contact Freehold Road Hazard Accident Lawyers for a Free Case Review
If you have been injured in a road hazard accident in Freehold, Sea Bright, Rumson, Belmar, Middletown, Red Bank, Manasquan, Manchester, Berkeley, or elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth County, don’t let anxiety consume you as you watch your medical bills stack up on the dining room table. You deserve to receive a settlement that will pay your bills and provide income while you recover.
We provide professional, knowledgeable representation for your road hazard personal injury case anywhere in New Jersey. Our attorneys are superb negotiators and litigators with a passion for helping our clients obtain the damages they deserve. Our skillful legal team works under a contingency agreement, so you don’t have to worry about sky-high legal fees if you don’t win.
Contact us today by calling (732) 303-7857 to request your free consultation. There is a two-year statute of limitations for this kind of case, so time is of the essence.