According to Florida’s Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), every year, more than 150,000 traffic accidents result in injuries in the United States. There are several reasons why car accidents happen in Pensacola. Often times, the causes of traffic accidents in Florida are preventable, as these crashes occur as a result of drivers’ poor choices. Sometimes, however, it is not a driver’s actions that caused the crash but instead poor road conditions.
Florida’s state, city, and local governments are responsible for road and highway maintenance. If the government fails to properly maintain the roads, Florida drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident. While Florida law does allow an accident victim to sue a government entity for monetary damages as a result of negligence, there are certain rules for doing so.
Examples of Poor Road Maintenance
While the general public thinks of potholes when thinking about poorly maintained roads and highways, there are many hazards on the road that can cause a car accident. Some common road hazards include:
- Poor or clogged drainage that causes flooding;
- Construction cuts in pavement yet to be filled;
- Potholes, sinkholes, or missing manhole covers;
- Spills on the road including oil or other slippery substances;
- Pavement that is cracked, uneven, or otherwise deteriorating;
- Broken or lack of guardrails on roads;
- Missing, inadequate, or incorrect signage;
- Poor lighting due to lack of streetlights or burned out bulbs;
- Overgrown foliage covering street signs, traffic signals, or street lights;
- Not functioning, or poorly functioning, traffic signals;
- Dangerous curved roads or poor sight lines;
- Fallen trees or other obstructions blocking the roads; and
- Unmarked streets that do not have centerline or shoulder markings.
While some of the above-mentioned road hazards are the result of inclement weather and not negligent maintenance on the part of a government entity, others are the result of poor road maintenance.
Sovereign Immunity Waived
It is true that sovereign immunity – or a citizen’s inability to sue the government – does exist, under Florida law these government agencies have consented to be sued in certain cases. Simply put, state, city, and local governments have waived their sovereign immunity. These special cases include state universities, municipalities, and counties, as well as executive departments, legislatures, the judicial branch (including public defenders), and corporations acting as government agencies.
A lawsuit against a government entity for a personal injury is one of the types of cases that fall under the waiver of sovereign immunity in Florida. This includes personal injury lawsuits that involve injuries suffered from car accidents caused by a government employee or entity. In short, when a Florida resident is involved in a car accident due to poorly maintained roads in Pensacola, the accident victim may sue the government if:
- The injuries sustained were caused by negligence;
- The victim’s losses can be compensated through a money damage award; and
- A Florida court would, in the same situation, find a private party liable for damages.
While these requirements are the basic ones necessary to file a lawsuit against a governmental entity in the state of Florida, the unique facts of your case may demand different or additional proof.
Pensacola Legal Help
While Florida law allows you to sue the government if the cause of the accident that resulted in injuries was poor road maintenance, it is a difficult and complicated task. Contact the experienced Florida car accident attorneys at Stevenson Klotz today.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.