Given how much of southern Texas is located on a floodplain, it is not at all surprising that roads around New Braunfels and San Antonio flood with relative frequency. Recently, flooding was out of control to the point where it required the closure of I-10 into Louisiana, which raises several questions, especially if you were one of the motorists inconvenienced by I-10’s closure. Roads do flood – is anyone responsible? The driver of the car that hit yours? The municipality tasked with maintaining the roads? While it does depend on the situation, this can be a difficult question to answer.
As one might imagine, more often than not it is the other driver involved in your accident who is likeliest to be held liable. However, in an accident involving hazardous road conditions, it can be difficult to pinpoint how much of your injuries are due to alleged negligence of the other driver, and how much is due to the road. It may be possible to get into issues of complex causation – in other words, to establish that the accident had more than one cause, and without both factors, it may not have occurred.
To be able to bring suit against the driver of the other car involved in your accident, you must be able to show that they actually caused your injuries (for example, if they were speeding and hydroplaned). There are two types of causation under Texas law – cause in fact and proximate cause. Cause, in fact, is exactly what it sounds like, and it is sometimes called ‘producing cause.’ Proximate cause, by comparison, is generally defined as something which can be said to have factored into the accident, but it must have stemmed foreseeably from the chain of events. For example, if you are in an auto accident with another car that ran a red light and hit you, the driver’s reckless conduct would be the producing cause. If the driver ran a red light because it was trying to get away from someone tailing him, that would (at least in theory) be the proximate cause.
Roads, especially interstates, are usually administered by municipal agencies, villages, towns or other governmental entities. To show a case for negligence on the part of such an entity, though, you must not only show that the accident was due to poor road conditions, but that the poor road conditions were due to the entity’s negligence. This can be very hard to show, simply because there is a host of other factors (driver error, fatigue, a defect in a part of the automobile, et cetera) that can reasonably be held up as the producing or proximate cause of an accident.
It is also worth noting that many jurisdictions, especially states and large cities like Austin or San Antonio, have what is referred to as sovereign immunity, which makes them immune from most lawsuits in tort. However, the Texas Tort Claims Act does permit governmental entities to be sued if the actor (the village, agency, or other type of government) would be liable to the injured party if they were an individual. It also allows for suit to be brought against individual employees of these entities under specific circumstances. If you can, it is a good idea to ensure the entity you want to sue can even be sued under Texas law.
Contact Our Road Hazard Accident Lawyers
Each year, it happens: roads flood, inconveniences abound, and a few unlucky people are harmed by potentially avoidable accidents. If you happen to be one of them, the New Braunfels auto accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call the office today to set up an initial appointment.