It is no secret that deteriorating roadways are a major problem in Myrtle Beach and throughout the state of South Carolina. You may run into an unfortunate situation where poor road maintenance or a negligent road design causes you to get into an accident. State and locals governments have a legal obligation to provide reasonably safe road conditions. If you have sustained damage because of poor roads, whether it is vehicle damage or an injury, you deserve full and fair compensation. Please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Myrtle Beach car accident attorney to learn more about your legal options.
Roads in Myrtle Beach: Nine Types of Dangerous Conditions
The following is a list of nine specific type of dangerous conditions that you may encounter on roads in Myrtle Beach:
- Unrepaired potholes;
- Large cracks in the road;
- Uneven pavement;
- Impossible to read or missing signage;
- Unremoved debris;
- Overly narrow lanes;
- Poorly planned traffic patterns;
- Defective or missing guardrails; and
- Dangerous curves.
State Payments for Vehicle Damage
You may be able to recover compensation from the government for your vehicle damage. You would be eligible in the event that poor road maintenance or design was a contributing cause to your vehicle damage. The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) administers a fund that is responsible for compensating affected motorists. To give context over just how often this issue occurs, earlier this spring, MyrtleBeachOnline.com filed a report on South Carolina road damage accident claims. The report looked at claims filed between 2010 and 2015. Some important highlights include:
- 11,000 claims were filed between during the period of 2010-2015;
- 70 percent of all claims were filed due to pothole damage; and
- In all, more than $40 million was paid out to settle the claims.
Government Liability for Injuries Caused by Poor Road Conditions
You may also file a claim against the state for a personal injury. Likewise, you will need to establish that negligence on behalf of a state or local government caused your injuries. These claims can be especially complex. If you are considering filing one, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney immediately. Your claim must be prepared with extreme care. One issue that arises in these cases is that several different levels of government can contribute to road maintenance, including the federal government, the state of South Carolina, Horry County and the city of Myrtle Beach. This can make sorting out the case, and getting your hands on important highway maintenance records, challenging. Another complicating factor is that technically, government entities have sovereign immunity. In simple terms, this means that they can only be sued under limited conditions. Because of sovereign immunity, car accident injury claims against any government entity in the state must be brought under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act of 1986. This will have several different implications for you and your Myrtle Beach road car accident injury claim, the most important being that negligence is a more challenging to establish. Ultimately, assessing whether or not a government entity was responsible for a dangerous road conditions accident starts with answering the following two questions:
- Did they know or should they have known about the dangerous conditions?
- Could they have taken reasonable measures that would have significantly reduced the risks?
If they knew or should have known about the dangers, and they could have taken reasonable steps to reduce the risk, but then they failed to do so, they can be held liable. For example, imagine that a severe thunderstorm hit Myrtle Beach. During that storm, a vicious lightning strike took down a tree. The tree fell into the road on North Oak Street, partially blocking passage. Eventually, because of the obstruction, a serious car accident occurred. Is the city of Myrtle Beach or the state of South Carolina liable for that damage? It depends. You will always need to know the specific circumstances of the accident. If the accident occurred only five minutes after the tree fell, there is obviously very little that any highway maintenance safety crew could have done to remove the risk. However, if the tree was allowed to sit in the roadway untouched for several days, then the accident victim would have a much stronger case.
Private Contractors May Also Bear Responsibility
In some cases, a private contractor that worked on a state or local roadway project may also bear liability for a car accident injury. If a private company was found to be the negligent party, then they must be held accountable. They can be sued without worrying about sovereign immunity. As an example of this type of situation, there has been a recent string of defective guardrail accidents across the country. In fact, some have even occurred in South Carolina. As was reported by The New York Times, the negligence of a private manufacturing company led to defective guardrails being installed. These defective products caused many serious injuries and even some fatalities. While this issue is still working its way through the legal system, last year the manufacturer of the defective guardrail, Trinity Industries, was ordered to pay $663 million in damages. Trinity’s guardrails, when hit at a certain angle, caused serious injuries to the occupants. Guardrails are supposed to protect, not make accidents worse. All manufactures and maintenance crews have a legal duty to ensure that their products meet relevant safety standards. If a private firm was working on a road project, or if the firm provided the materials for the project, and their negligence either caused an accident or made the accident more severe, they can and should be held liable.
Contact an Experienced Myrtle Beach Car Accident Lawyer
South Carolina, Myrtle Beach and responsible private contractors have a duty to provide you and your family with safe road conditions. If you have been injured in a Myrtle Beach car accident, and you believe that dangerous road conditions were a contributing factor, you need to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Joye Law Firm, our Myrtle Beach car accident attorneys have helped many victims recover the compensation they deserve. Contact our office today to set up a free review of your case.