The majority of car accidents are attributable to negligence by one of the drivers involved. But what happens if poor road design or maintenance could be an issue? This can leave accident victims unsure of their next steps, but there may be remedies available if a local government did not maintain the roadways.
One uncommon but potentially deadly example of poor road management is a lack of stop signs. A missing or defaced stop sign can contribute to high-speed accidents in which one or more drivers fail to stop at an intersection.
Missing Stop Signs: An Unusual Threat
In August 2013, The Morning Journal reported on the vandalism and theft of dozens of stop signs in Berne Township. Police in the area acknowledged that the absence of stop signs at busy intersections could result in more dangerous vehicle accidents.
This is just one example of why stop signs may be missing from intersections. Signs also may be absent because:
- they fell and were not put back into place;
- they were struck by another vehicle and never replaced; and
- they were never installed to begin with, due to poor or inefficient traffic planning.
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Is the city liable for an accident related to a missing stop sign?
While one of the city’s duties may be to maintain proper traffic signs, governments are often immune to liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Claimants would have to demonstrate that the city’s immunity is waived under the circumstances of the accident and per Ohio’s Political Subdivision Tort Liability Act.
In one example, Mykol Walters v. City of Columbus, Ohio, the courts addressed this issue in a lawsuit following a 2006 accident related to a stop sign obscured from drivers’ views. The appeals court found that at issue was whether the stop sign’s placement was mandatory per Ohio’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices – if it was, then the city may be liable; if not, then it is not liable.
Needless to say, these cases can be very complicated and difficult to handle without legal assistance. Complicated accident claims can benefit greatly from the guidance of a personal injury lawyer who will evaluate applicable laws, examine the circumstances of the accident and file appropriate rules for bringing a claim against a government entity.
What is different about filing against the government?
The Ohio Political Subdivision Tort Liability Act covers rules and processes for handling these cases. Like other cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of accident. But certain damage limitations apply. For example, claimants cannot recover punitive damages. While compensatory damages for actual losses are not capped, claimants cannot recover more than $250,000 in non-economic damages in claims against the government.
Discuss these matters during a free case evaluation with Bressman Law. Our firm can examine the specifics of your accident and whether state law waives government immunity based on the facts of the case. Call (877) 538-1116 or fill out our contact form.