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Do I Have Legal Recourse After Driving on a Poorly-Maintained Road?

Published on Feb 7, 2019 at 11:28 am in Auto Accident.

Any time you’re behind the wheel, it’s likely you’re on the lookout for negligent drivers who may be distracted, using their cell phones, or disobeying traffic laws. While it’s crucial to be aware of those individuals to reduce your risk of an accident, sometimes the road conditions can put you in a dangerous situation that’s outside your control.

The state and local governments are responsible for ensuring roadways are safe for travelers. It requires a significant amount of time and money to keep highways and local roads in a state that does not present any hazards. When the roadways are neglected, travelers may encounter unavoidable dangers that cause crashes.

Accidents Resulting from Poorly-Maintained Roads in Kentucky

Thousands of car accidents occur every year all over the state. A portion of those wrecks result from dangerous roads that should have been fixed or maintained. Just in Kentucky, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 34 percent of the roads are said to be in mediocre or poor condition. Over 31 percent of the bridges have been deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Roads that are labeled as mediocre or poor may show signs of deterioration in the forms of rutting, cracks, or potholes. Broken guardrails, poor lighting, and missing or defective signs or traffic lights are also a sign a road has not been maintained properly. When drivers are tasked with operating their vehicles on dangerous roads, they could lose control and collide with a fixed object or another vehicle.

Kentucky’s System for Fixing Dangerous Roads and Bridges

The Roadway Maintenance Branch of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is supposed to manage roadway maintenance programs and contracts to have roadways fixed. They are in charge of contracting maintenance activities of the statewide resurfacing programs, reviewing citizen complaints, upgrading existing guardrails, drainage structures, concrete pavement repair, slide repair, and asphalt patching.

On average, motorists are tasked with spending $185 per year to fix damage to their vehicle that was sustained while driving on poor roads. That equals out to $543 million annually. The state hopes to decrease that amount by enacting a plane to improve the conditions of roads over the course of a number of years.

The 2018 Highway Plan has set out to prioritize spending on more than 5,000 miles of pavement improvements and 1,000 bridge repairs over the next six years. The $8.5 billion plan will complete projects to widen roads, reconstruct existing roads, build new routes and interchanges, introduce new mobility and safety programs, and repair and replace bridges.

Pursuing Reimbursement with the Kentucky Claims Commission

While local governments are responsible for maintaining the roads in their jurisdiction, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is responsible for maintaining 27,000 miles of state highways. If you see a dangerous road condition and do not get into an accident, you can report the concern online. You’ll need to provide your name and contact information, the county where the danger is, the location based on the interstate, federal, or state route, and a description. While you can bring up any concern, the most common are in regard to potholes, guardrails and guard cables, signals, signs, and highway lighting.

If you find yourself in an accident, you can file a claim against the Kentucky Claims Commission. There is no fee to file a claim, but you will need to provide evidence regarding the matter as well as a signature. Claims are only accepted if the damage exceeds $250.  At this point, you may want to consider hiring an attorney, as they can help you produce a strong claim.

For claims involving less than $2,500 in damage, a decision will be made within 60 days. For those exceeding $2,500, a decision will be made within 30 days. If the Commission admits responsibility, the victim should receive a check for the full amount of recoverable damages. If the Commission denies liability, a hearing will likely take place.

It’s important to remember, as with most legal actions, there are time constraints to file a claim. Claims, in general, must be filed within one year of the date of the accident. Your lawyer will help you determine how much time you have.

If you are awarded compensation, it will not exceed $250,000. If a single act of negligence resulted in multiple claims, the claimants may receive an award for no more than $400,000 – to be divided among them. Claims cannot be filed for mental distress or pain and suffering.

Pursuing legal recourse from the Kentucky Claims Commission can be complicated, and without a strong case it’s likely you will not receive the money you deserve to recover from your accident. You’ll need a strong legal team by your side. For legal representation you can count on, contact Thomas Law Offices in Louisville today.