We’ve seen it happen to our Missouri and Illinois clients too many times: a municipality’s failure to adequately design or maintain a road can leads to a catastrophic car accident which seriously injures or even kills innocent victims. Road defects kill too many people each year, and that may have been the case for one woman recently crossing the street in North St. Louis. Preliminary reports indicate that faulty street lamps may very well have played a role in the woman’s death.
According to authorities, the 56-year-old woman and a 47-year-old male companion were in the process of crossing N. Grand near the intersection with N. Market at just after 9 p.m. on a recent Sunday evening. At least one witness to the collision claimed that a pickup truck smashed into the two pedestrians before fleeing along N. Market. Authorities are likely attempting to locate the suspected hit-and-run driver in connection with this deadly accident.
Road defects may be responsibility of government agency or municipality
While that driver may well be held responsible for his or her role in the crash, it is possible that St. Louis City could also face liability if it is demonstrated that the faulty lights contributed to this woman’s death. One early report indicated that a St. Louis Streets Dept. worker confirmed that they had previous reports that lights near that area were not functioning properly. According to that same person, however, the lights were supposedly working again when road crews went to check them.
Interestingly enough, a news crew apparently discovered that three or four street lamps at that intersection were still not working the next afternoon after the pedestrian accident. Government agencies which are responsible for the design and maintenance of streets and highways are expected to make sure that any roadways they design are safe for the average motorist who is exercising necessary reasonable care. Statistics show that approximately 20 percent of accidents are not two-car collisions — but single-car collisions — and not all of these crashes can be traced to driver error.
One important consideration in whether a government agency or municipality can be held civilly liable for road defects is that of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity refers to laws which prevent municipalities from facing liability for personal injury or wrongful death claims. Fortunately, however, complete sovereign immunity is relatively rare. Most jurisdictions only have partial immunity; and certain exceptions can apply in some situations.
Sovereign immunity may not apply in some road defects cases
In Missouri, for instance, sovereign immunity may be overcome by adhering to fairly strict notice requirements which require plaintiffs to meet set time deadlines in order to pursue claims against a public entity when it comes to defective property conditions. Illinois law also allows claims to be made in certain situations, but there are important guidelines which must be followed in order for them to have a chance at success. Since sovereign immunity when it pertains to road defect cases can be complex, it may be a good idea for victims and surviving relatives to contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney to discuss the merits of their cases.
My St. Louis personal injury law firm is experienced in pursuing road defects and other personal injury cases. We offer a free initial consultation to those who contact our toll-free number, 1-888-586-7041, and ask to set up a meeting to discuss their case. This initial consultation will cost nothing, and we take cases on a contingency fee basis — meaning clients whose cases we accept will pay nothing until, and only if, we obtain money on their behalf. Please consider contacting us as soon as possible to discuss your road defects case to make sure all appropriate time and other guidelines related to sovereign immunity are upheld, and to give your case the best chance possible to succeed.
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