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Crossover Accidents and Municipal Liability

Posted on in Traffic Offenses

crossover accidents, defective roadway, head-on collision, McHenry County traffic accident attorney, traffic accidents, municipal liabilityIt is not surprising to hear that store owners have a duty to keep their businesses safe for patrons. If someone trips over an uneven floor or slips in a puddle of water while shopping, then the individual can likely recover from the store for the injuries suffered. A similar principle applies to states and municipalities for drivers on the road. It is a state's job to make sure the roads are properly designed and maintained, so that the roads themselves do not cause traffic accidents. A recent case, Rommel v. Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, dealt with whether this issue extended to the design and maintenance of highway medians. The court held that it did not.

Municipal Liability

Municipal liability is a legal doctrine designed to protect people who are on public land. It allows private citizens to hold the government responsible for certain injuries. One of the most common uses of the doctrine is to hold a state liable for injuries that occur on public roads because of poor design or maintenance. However, even here it is a somewhat narrow doctrine. So many crashes are caused by negligence on the part of one of the drivers, or as a result of defective cars, and courts are therefore leery when blaming an accident on the way a road was laid out or maintained. Yet, the doctrine still serves an important purpose. In a sense, it exists to keep states and municipalities honest and to ensure that they do not allow roads to become so dilapidated that they become a danger to the people who use them.

The Case

The case dealt with several crashes that had all been consolidated into a single case for the purposes of rendering a decision. Five completely separate crashes all occurred under similar circumstances between two cars traveling down a highway. On a stretch of I-90, the cars all lost control and ended up veering off the road. The cars ran across the highway median and hit another car in a head-on collision.

The plaintiffs then sued the Highway Authority and argued that it was poor design or maintenance of the median that allowed these crashes to happen. Fundamentally, they wanted the state to add guardrails to the median or to alter the median's slope to make it more difficult for cars to run across it. The court held that the Highway Authority could not be held liable for the crashes because the state only has a duty to ensure that the roadways themselves are safe to travel on.

Being involved in a traffic accident can have a significant impact on one's life following an accident. If you were recently involved in a crash and you believe that a defective roadway may be to blame, contact a McHenry County traffic accident attorney today. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to help you understand all the possible causes of your accident, so that you can pursue the best strategy for your recovery.
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