If you have ever driven in the pouring rain or immediately after a large storm, you may be familiar with hydroplaning. This occurs when a vehicle’s wheels lose traction with the road due to water on the roadway. Unfortunately, hydroplaning is one of the many ways inclement weather can cause severe accidents, especially if you hit a puddle while traveling at high speeds.
If you get hurt as a result of hydroplaning in Western PA, you may be able to file suit against the driver who was travelling too fast, or against the entity responsible for that stretch of road. However, as a seasoned car accident lawyer could tell you, filing suit against any government authority is an extremely complicated endeavor, so you should not try to pursue this type of claim without first retaining experienced legal counsel.
How Could a Government Entity Be Liable for Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning is a somewhat unique cause of traffic accidents, because even if a driver is obeying the speed limit, aware of his or her surroundings, and operating a fully functional and well-maintained car, an inch of stagnant water between a vehicle’s tires and the road could cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. The weather conditions may require that one drive slower than the posted speed limit, based upon reduced traction. Hydroplaning wrecks often stem not from driver behavior, but from the road itself.
When safely and properly constructed, a road should have a steep enough cross slope—the slight difference in height between the middle of the road and both shoulders—so rainwater does not collect inside lanes of traffic. Whether an accident arises from the road degrading over time or from it being constructed poorly in the first place, a lack of cross slope could allow puddles to form during inclement weather. Accordingly, if a municipality in Western Pennsylvania fails to build or maintain a road so that it drains properly during storms, it could be liable for any hydroplaning car crashes that ensue. However, these cases can be very challenging due to immunity that is provided to government entities and difficulty proving legal liability.
Limitations on Civil Cases Against the Government
While traffic accidents stemming from poor road conditions are one of the few circumstances in which government entities are not immune from civil liability, there are still several restrictions on these types of cases. First, state law establishes damage caps on recovery in claims against government entities:
- $250,000 per plaintiff and $1 million per incident in claims against the state government
- $500,000 per plaintiff or per incident in claims against local governments
Furthermore, a prospective plaintiff has a maximum of six months to provide written notice of his or her intent to file suit to the government entity he or she intends to sue, or he or she will not be allowed to seek compensation for a local hydroplaning car wreck.
Seek Help from a Western PA Attorney After a Hydroplaning Car Accident
If you got hurt in a collision because your vehicle hydroplaned suddenly on a public road, you may not be liable to pay for your damages yourself. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to hold the government entity responsible for road maintenance in that area liable for the injuries and losses you sustained.
However, achieving success with this kind of claim can be nearly impossible without dedicated legal counsel by your side. To find out how a skilled lawyer could help you after a hydroplaning car accident in Western PA, call Marcus & Mack today.