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Understanding Road Hazard Accidents

Serious road hazards can make it impossible to avoid an accident. Road hazards can send your car spiraling out of control resulting in life-threatening injuries or even death.

Some hazards such as animals, weather, and natural conditions cannot be blamed on anyone. However, there are some hazards that are a result of error, omission, or negligence. For instance, if a construction company left bumpy, uneven, or rough edges on a road, they can be held responsible for any accidents that occur as a result of their negligence.

In a recent study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, poor road conditions were identified as the leading cause of road accidents in America. Poor maintenance coupled with hazardous roads contributed to 31% of car accidents in the country.

In 2012, over 12,000 accidents involving large trucks and buses occurred in Arizona. Based on the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, this translates to 3,800 accidents that could have been avoided.

It is also important to consider that some road hazards that may seem minor to a truck, SUV, or other sturdy vehicles, can have outsized effects on a cyclist, motorcyclist, or small vehicles.

Common Types of Road Hazards That Cause Accidents

Some of the common types of road hazards that may lead to severe car accidents include:

Weather-Related Hazards

The U.S. The Department of Transportation attributes up to 21% of annual car crashes to weather-related hazards. These include rain, fog, snow, ice pavements, and other weather conditions. Most of these conditions affect visibility, vehicle functions, and ability to brake which can all cause serious accidents.

Poor Road Maintenance

Poor road maintenance practices can also cause hazards that may lead to accidents. These include:

  • Potholes
  • Cracks
  • Overgrown plants that block road signs
  • Medium damage
  • Excessive gravel
  • Faded road markings

Defective Road Design

Defective road designs differ slightly from maintenance. Defective designs mean the road was poorly designed and built while poor road maintenance simply means that the road may have been properly constructed but was later neglected.

Some examples of defective road designs include:

  • Ineffective guardrails
  • Overly narrow lanes
  • Blind or sharp curves
  • Excessive grades
  • Poor drainage that allows accumulation of standing water
  • Dangerous dips and slopes
  • Ineffective signage
  • Visual impairments such as trees and bushes that were inadequately cleared
  • Short merging lanes

Poor road design can be even more dangerous than poor maintenance and significantly increases the risk of accidents.


Hitting debris on the road at high speeds can be detrimental. While some debris is caused by natural events such as trees, or rocks, others may be left behind by other motorists such as car parts, tires, traffic signs, or even trash.

Debris can also be left behind after the road construction project is complete. It is not uncommon for some debris to fall off the trucks as they are leaving the site.

Poor Construction and Road Work Marking

It is important to protect the workers and construction zones using proper signage and warnings. However, barriers and machinery that may be blocking traffic, however partially, can contribute to accidents.

A contractor who performs substandard work by using poor-quality materials also increases the risk of accidents along that road.

Deteriorated Roads

A well-constructed road should typically have a lifespan of up to 20 years. Exposure to the elements and regular use can also significantly affect this time. In such cases, repairs may not be effective, and the roads might need to be resurfaced.

The government is tasked with keeping track of aging infrastructure including repair, maintenance, and resurfacing. Some common signs of deteriorated roads are:

  • Rough pavements
  • Potholes
  • Cracks
  • Uneven lanes
  • Tire grooves
  • Faded pavements
  • Faded road paint among others

Determining Liability in Road Hazard Accidents

In case you are involved in a road hazard accident, liability is determined by the type of hazard. For instance, if you are in an accident involving an animal such as a deer, it is impossible to sue the deer.

While you cannot file a claim, your insurer is likely to pay for any damages. However, you will still be considered liable.

If you are involved in an accident caused by debris from another vehicle, it is possible to file a claim against the driver. However, you might find it difficult to prove that the debris fell off their vehicle unless there is a witness or dashcam footage.

In some cases, the hazard may be a pothole, crack in the road, faded markings, damaged guardrails, or a deteriorated road. In this case, it is best to consult a lawyer to find out who is liable. You may be able to file a claim against the local, state, or even federal government.

Hiring a professional attorney allows you to establish your timelines and understand the claims process as suing the government is usually more complicated than filing a claim with an insurance provider.

Road hazard accidents may also happen during the construction process. Drivers often have to drive around barricades, trucks blocking the road, tight spaces, and other blockages. If there is poor signage or incorrect markings, this can lead to an accident.

Bridges that are not solid can also cause accidents if they collapse causing serious injuries and even fatalities. Freeways and highways are also notorious for hazard accidents caused by heavy trucks which damage the road surface.

In some of these cases, you may be able to hold liable the contractor or the government department tasked with the maintenance of infrastructure. However, it is always best to contact a lawyer to find out your options.

Other parties that could be held liable for road hazard accidents include:

  • Public entities
  • Private companies
  • Other motorists
  • Cargo loading companies
  • Construction companies, among others

What If a Driver’s Behavior Contributed to a Road Hazards Accident?

If a driver is fully or partially responsible as a result of negligence on their part, even when there is a road hazard involved, it will significantly affect their compensation.

Some states use comparative negligence to assign percentages of fault to the parties involved. Your claim will be reduced according to your proportion of fault.

For instance, a driver may be speeding and get into an accident caused by poor road design. If you are awarded $50,000 in damages, but the court decides you were 75% at fault, you can only recover $12,500 from the government entity that was involved in the road’s negligent design.

In some cases, the state may also bar you from recovering any damages if you were over 50% responsible for the accident.

Can a Government Agency Be Held Liable for Road Hazard Accidents?

While these types of lawsuits are often complex, it is possible to sue a government agency for a road hazard accident. These cases are also difficult to prove as there are many entities involved in road construction, design, and maintenance who may have contributed to the accident.

However, if you strongly believe that negligence in design, build, or maintenance may have contributed to the accident, it is always best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. These professionals can guide you on how to file your lawsuit.

Remember, the statute of limitations may also affect your lawsuit, so it is best to contact a lawyer immediately after an accident.


If you hit a pole, or animal, or have an accident as a result of poor weather, it can be termed simply as bad luck. 

However, if you have suffered injuries such as bone fractures, whiplash, head trauma, loss of wages, and emotional distress, as a result of negligence, omission, or errors, you deserve compensation.

Get in touch with a personal injury attorney to get legal guidance.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for general education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or any other advice specific to you the user or anyone else. TurtleVerse does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information and shall not be held responsible for any action taken based on the published information.



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