During the last week of February, heavy rain necessitated closure of multiple lanes on I-35, most recently around San Pedro Avenue and Thousand Oaks, as storms led to abandoned cars and unsuspecting drivers heading into water far too deep to drive through. While as of this writing no fatalities have occurred during these recent storms, however, it is possible for these conditions to lead to accidents and injuries, especially if not handled appropriately by the municipality or entity that maintains the roads. If there are no signs or other indications, accidents can certainly happen.
Road Maintenance Matters in Accidents
While many simply do not think of it, poor road maintenance absolutely can make a difference in whether a traffic accident may or may not occur. However, it can be difficult to make the case stick, so to speak, because more must be proven in order to receive compensation than, for example, a missing road sign, or a lack of lighting. You must be able to show that the poor road conditions not only existed, but you must prove that they were a major cause of your accident, rather than an incidental occurrence.
To attempt to hold a municipality or government entity responsible for your accident, you must be able to show that either they were negligent in maintaining the road, or that they failed to adequately warn motorists of any potential danger. A municipality or county has a duty to maintain the roads within their borders in a safe condition, and any breach of that duty can be grounds to allege negligence in a manner that might merit a finding of compensation for the plaintiff.
Sovereign Immunity Is an Issue
One aspect of a lawsuit for poor road maintenance that must also be considered is the issue of sovereign immunity. While the state of Texas itself has waived sovereign immunity in many instances through the Texas Tort Claims Act, certain cities and counties in Texas still have it on the books, and thus cannot be sued. The law of sovereign immunity comes to U.S. law from England, and it originated centuries ago – the rationale was that if every subject were permitted to sue the king or his government, no governing would get done.
Also, even some Texas municipalities that have waived sovereign immunity have only done so in certain cases, or with certain conditions applied – for example, many cities have waived sovereign immunity only in cases of “gross” negligence, which is not the same as ordinary negligence. It is important to do your due diligence before trying to bring suit against an entity in that city or county, because your suit will simply be dismissed if the sovereign immunity statute does not allow it to go forward.
Seek Out Experienced Legal Help
The weather in San Antonio may be improving for the moment, but the rain will come again. If it does, and if there is no warning when floods occur, it may open up an entity to suit if accidents happen. If you are unlucky enough to have it happen to you, consulting an attorney can help you decide how to handle the matter. Our dedicated New Braunfels car accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm will do our best to help answer your questions. Contact us today to set up an appointment.