One of the many things that make this state beautiful is the diversity of its seasons. Few states experience snowy winters, colorful autumns, and bright summers like Michigan. Unfortunately, these dramatic changes in weather can make driving extremely hazardous. Because of this, it is important to ride safely at all times and all times of the year, although it is particularly necessary to use caution when driving in certain conditions.
While many car wrecks are due to the negligence of a motorist, some crashes are the result of dangerous or defective roadways. While there are a number of safety measures a driver can take to try to avoid these accidents, some situations are beyond a driver’s control.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash dangerous conditions on Michigan roads, you may feel as though you have no legal recourse despite incurring medical bills and missed time at work. An experienced lawyer might be able to help. By working to investigate how an incident happened, a qualified attorney could determine if you have legal grounds for a civil lawsuit.
Common Hazards on Michigan Roadways
The winter months can be particularly devastating to roads and walkways, and often times these defects are not fixed in a timely manner. As a result, large cracks and potholes can cause severe motor vehicle wrecks and injuries. The bar chart below showcases the number of highway negligence cases each year since 1983.
While the potential hazards on roads are virtually endless, there are certain occurrences — especially during the winter months — that are more likely than others. These include rain, snow, ice, mud, as well as other related weather conditions. Furthermore, crashes might occur from hazardous roadways that include:
- Improper design
- Potholes and roadway defects
- Trees and debris on the roadway
- Highway shoulder drop-offs
- Failure to post warning signals and signs
- Inadequate or malfunctioning warning signals and signs
- Dangerous and defective guardrails
- Uneven surfaces on roads
Ice and Snow on Roads
During the winter months, driving can be treacherous and frightening. Conditions such as snowstorm whiteouts—which obstruct visibility— and black ice make driving dangerous and unpredictable. However, there are certain safety measures every driver can take to help combat these dangerous conditions on Michigan roads. These include:
- Always wear a seatbelt
- Try to avoid driving when there is a snow emergency in the county
- Four-wheel drive vehicles are just as vulnerable to slipping on ice as regular two-wheel drive vehicles
- Should a car begin to skid, remember not to panic or slam on the brakes
- Increase following distance between vehicles
- Remember bridges and ramps freeze first
- Never pass a snow plow or salt truck—operators may not see another motorist. Instead, stay at least 25 feet, or three car lengths, behind a snow emergency vehicle
- Do not abandon a vehicle if a crash happens—instead, wait in the car until help arrives. If a car breaks down, always move the vehicle off the roadway as far as possible and try to leave a distress signal for visibility
- In rainy conditions, it is more difficult to see other vehicles—therefore, make sure to have properly-working windshield wipers and lights, stay toward the middle lanes, and use caution
- It is necessary during a wintry road trip to decrease speed and leave plenty of room to stop—allow three times more space than usual and brake gently to avoid skidding
Defective Road and Pothole Accidents
Of all the types of hazards and dangerous conditions on Michigan roads, potholes are some of the most common reasons for accidents and injuries. As a result, there are several statutes that relate to a governmental agency’s duty to properly maintain roadways and includes matters regarding dangerous potholes and other road defects. Essentially, a person might be entitled to recover both property damage and damages related to any injuries suffered from a dangerous condition.
To qualify for a claim, an injured person seeking to recover must be able to establish that the governmental entity was aware of the condition more than thirty days before the damage or injury occurred. Often, this can be done so long as the defect existed on the road, so as to be readily apparent to an ordinary and observant person within this time frame prior to the claimant’s injuries. Notice may be established by, for example, other complaints about the defect being filed to the municipality or governmental agency prior to a claimant’s injuries. Witnesses and photographs are also often used to provide evidence.
Furthermore, notice to the at-fault person, company, or entity must be served—somewhere between 60 and 120 days from the time of injury, depending on the circumstances—upon an individual personally or through certified mail to someone who may lawfully be served with civil process directed against the government agency. Furthermore, anyone seeking to file a claim for these defective conditions might benefit from the counsel of a tenacious lawyer for help.
Capturing Evidence of a Hazardous Roadway
It is essential that pictures and video, if possible, be taken of dangerous and defective conditions on highways and roadways. Often, these documents are vital for demonstrating that a condition was hazardous. Conversely, if an area is repaired before pictures are taken, it is often difficult to prove how dangerous a condition was at the time of a crash, although the repairs made might be used as evidence that the condition was, in fact, in need of repairs.
It is also important that measures be taken of a pothole, raised cement, or another type of dangerous road condition. While photographs provide great evidence of a defect, the actual measurements of the condition are often what is necessary to prove that a road was hazardous.
Legal Rights and Options After a Hazardous Roadway Crash
Michigan is a no-fault state. Therefore, you should be offered adequate compensation for your injuries if you are ever involved in an accident. Unfortunately, it is common that victims of serious injuries do not receive the support they need. In such cases, it may be advisable to discuss additional legal options with a seasoned accident attorney.
If, on the other hand, you were a passenger and an at-fault driver clearly was traveling too fast for the roadway conditions, you may be able to pursue compensation for losses through a civil claim. Similarly, if you crashed because of dangerous conditions on Michigan roads, you may be able to hold the governmental agency responsible for not properly maintaining the road.
No matter the circumstances, there are a number of different legal options available for victims of car crashes. Instead of trying to consider your options alone, however, it may be in your best interest to discuss any potential claims with an experienced attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Call today for a consultation.
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