Accidents are called accidents because they don’t happen on purpose. But figuring out exactly who caused an accident is important in a fault-based state like Texas where the person who causes an accident is the one responsible for paying for it. But what happens when the thing that caused an accident is not a who but a what?
A recent article in the Houston Chronicle that is part of an excellent in-depth series on traffic deaths in our area suggests that some accidents may be caused by the design and condition of our roadways.
Houston, We Have A Problem
According to the Chronicle, which compiled data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Houston metro area, which includes Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties, “leads the nation for fatal crashes involving drugs and alcohol… It’s No. 2 for fatal crashes, per capita, on federal highways… [It] ranks second for fatal wrecks that involve speeding and also trails only Dallas in crashes blamed on someone slamming into stopped congestion on the freeway.”
The data suggests it is not just our local drivers that cause accidents. Road design and maintenance play a role as well. As the article points out, “The tight curves of older freeway intersections such as Loop 610 and Interstate 69 northeast of downtown, for example, force motorists to lean on the brakes to avoid a barrier or railing. In the merge lanes along frontage roads parallel to Interstate 10, veteran drivers know that a speeding car could suddenly appear from any direction. Spots along Westheimer and FM 1960 have morphed into a string of shopping center entrances, crossed by streets pocked by potholes and sloppy asphalt patches that mimic motocross ramps.”
Issues like this make it incredibly dangerous to drive in our city. Even if you are obeying all the traffic laws, the roads themselves increase the risk of being in an accident.
Holding Our Government Accountable
If you were involved in an accident, and you think the design or maintenance of the road was partially or completely to blame, you should share your concerns with an experienced personal injury attorney. It may be possible to hold the municipality responsible for building and maintaining the road partially responsible for your accident.
If the municipalities is found to have acted negligently or worse, they may be forced to compensate you for your injuries. You may be able to recover lost wages, get your medical bills paid, repair your car or purchase a new one, and get money to cover future medical expenses.
You may also be able to get the government to agree to fix the problem that caused your accident. It can be particularly rewarding to know that what happened to you will not happen to someone else because you had the guts to stand up to the government and tell them what they are doing — or in many cases not doing — is wrong.