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The cost of neglecting highway design defects

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Dangerous Road Accident, Freeway Accidents

Highways are the arteries of our transportation system, designed to facilitate smooth and efficient travel for people and goods. Civil engineers who specialize in road design typically handle the design of these vital pathways. These engineers must consider factors such as traffic volume, terrain, and safety features while planning the road’s layout.

While road design takes a high level of expertise, the engineers don’t always get it right, which can mean design defect that are a safety risk. While designers and government agencies are responsible for all the deaths and injuries on Washington roads, Washington Highway Patrol investigated 312 road fatalities in 2022.

Common Highway Design Defects

Here are some common types of design defects found in highways here in Washington:

  • Inadequate signage: This can confuse drivers, increasing the risk of collisions.
  • Poor lighting: Insufficient lighting on highways can reduce a driver’s visibility, particularly at night or during adverse weather conditions.
  • Sharp curves: Hart’s Pass is infamous, but there are other roads with extremely sharp curves that are a hazard without proper warning signs, barriers and appropriate speed limits.
  • Inadequate drainage: It rains a lot here, and poor drainage can lead to water pooling on the road, which increases the likelihood of hydroplaning.
  • Improperly graded roads: Improperly graded roads can cause water to run across them rather than away from them, leading to slippery conditions.

Filing a design defects lawsuit

Various entities, including state transportation departments, local government bodies, or private firms contracted by governmental agencies, can be responsible for a highway project. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a highway design defect, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Here’s how victims or their families can initiate this process:

  • Document the incident: Collect as much evidence as possible from the accident scene. It includes photos of the hazardous road conditions, witness statements, and a copy of the police report.
  • Seek medical attention: Obtain medical treatment for your injuries. Medical records will serve as critical evidence in your lawsuit.
  • Consult a personal injury attorney: A qualified lawyer can help navigate the complexities of legal proceedings and advocate on your behalf. They will evaluate the evidence, identify the liable parties—potentially including state or local government agencies or contractors—and determine the best legal strategy.
  • File the lawsuit: Your lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf, outlining the case details and the required compensation.
  • Discovery process: This may include document requests, depositions, and interrogatories related to the highway design and the accident’s circumstances.
  • Negotiation and settlement: A lawyer will negotiate with the defendant’s representatives to reach a settlement that covers your losses. If the two sides can’t settle, the case will likely go to trial.
  • Trial: If the case goes to trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments. A judge or jury then decides on liability and damages.

Compensation for your losses

Understanding the role of highway design in traffic safety is crucial for preventing accidents and protecting the public. If you believe a design defect in a highway has contributed to an accident, it is essential to seek legal guidance promptly. This legal action can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.