A private property owner can be held responsible if there is a dangerous condition on the property that causes injury to another. The same principle holds for roads owned and maintained by the State of New York. If officials are aware of a dangerous condition and fail to correct it “within a reasonable time,” the state can be held liable if the hazard leads to a car accident.
Improper Bridge Maintenance Leads to Successful Personal Injury Claim
One morning in December of 2006, a man was driving his van on the I-95 portion of the New York State Thruway. As he passed underneath a bridge in Mamaroneck, a large object crashed into his vehicle. It turned out to be a metal conduit pipe that had fallen from the overpass. The impact tore off part of the van's roof and cracked the windshield.
The driver sued the New York State Thruway Authority, which operates the road on behalf of the state. The case is currently pending before the New York Court of Claims. On August 26, Judge Stephen J. Mignano of the Court of Claims held the Authority was “100% liable for negligence” in the accident. A separate trial must be held to determine what damages the driver will receive.
The evidence presented at trial showed that the Authority hired a private contractor to install closed circuit television cameras at various points along the Thruway, which required installation of metal conduits at several locations. About two years prior to the accident, an engineer working for the contractor warned the Authority's project supervisor that there was a “bending issue” with the conduits installed at the Mamaroneck underpass that could cause them to fall onto a vehicle. An inspection made the following year, 2005, revealed similar issues. Yet there was no evidence of any further inspections or repairs made between 2005 and the accident in 2006.
An expert witness hired by the van driver further established that the conduit was hanging from a height lower than what was considered safe under the Authority's own engineering standards. While the Authority maintained the conduit was not too low, Judge Mignano said it presented no expert testimony of its own to rebut the driver's expert on this point. It was therefore undisputed that the Authority “had departed from good and accepted engineering and safety procedures” in installing and maintaining the conduit. This was sufficient to prove the Authority maintained a dangerous condition which “endangered the traveling public,” establishing its negligence as a matter of New York law.
Need Legal Help Following a Car Accident?
Not every road hazard creates liability for the state. There are many cases where a state or local road authority is unaware of a problem or has inadequate time to remedy the situation. But where there is clear evidence of a failure to address a known hazardous condition, and a person is seriously injured as a result, the government can and should be held accountable. If you need help from an experiencedNew York personal injury attorney, contact the offices of Mahir Nisar Attorney at Law., right away.