As hard as it is to remember at times, celebrities are just like us. They are capable of experiencing some of the same issues we go through in life, including car accidents. One celebrity that recently was involved in a serious car accident was Flavor Flav, one of the founders of American hip hop group Public Enemy. Flavor Flav was enjoying a road trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and was traveling through the La Tuna Canyon.
Because it had rained earlier, some of the rocks from the canyon became loose and started to fall on the road that the rapper was traveling on. One huge boulder fell from the canyon and struck the right side of Flav’s vehicle, causing the vehicle to swerve to the side of the road. Had the boulder hit the vehicle just a few feet to the left, Flav and his personal driver would have suffered fatal injuries. However, even though the vehicle was totaled, Flav and his driver were fortunate to walk away with no physical injuries from the accident.
While human error is a significant factor in traffic accidents, the conditions of the road play an integral part in road safety. Just like driver negligence, road defects have the power to cause devastating accidents leading to serious, even fatal injuries.. Public roadways must be maintained and properly inspected. When the government fails to uphold this safety requirement for the general public, the proper entities can be held accountable.
What are some examples of road defects and hazards?
Drivers can experience any of the following types of road defects or hazards in Oklahoma:
- Road depression: a substantial indentation in the roadway that somewhat resembles a pothole.
- Inadequate drainage: poor drainage can affect not only vehicle performance but pavement performance.
- Potholes: potholes have the potential to cause damage to every type of vehicle. Driving over a pothole at high speeds can lead to loss of control of the vehicle and ultimately a car accident.
- Overgrown vegetation: bushes, grasses, and other vegetation near a road need to be trimmed routinely to prevent issues with a driver’s line of sight. Overgrown vegetation can prevent drivers from seeing traffic signals, stop signs, and other vehicles around curves.
- Missing guardrails: when a guardrail is missing it can cause a vehicle that has left the road to fall down an embankment, leading to a serious crash.
- Missing signage: Roadways must have specific signage in order to be considered safe. If speed limit signs, exit signs, warning signs, or other signage is missing, drivers could become confused, leading to a deadly crash.
- Broken or malfunctioning traffic lights: traffic lights that have light bulbs burned out or are flashing when they should be steady can turn a normal day into a tragic one for many drivers.
- Falling rocks: although not a true road defect, falling rocks can lead to serious and even fatal traffic accidents. When rocks are not secured on the side of a road that has a hill, the vehicles below can be struck if one falls, leading to a potentially fatal situation.
Whose responsibility is it to maintain Tulsa’s roadways?
There are several government entities that share the responsibility of maintaining the roadways. City, county, and state agencies are responsible for maintaining Tulsa’s roads. For example, a city agency may have the responsibility of ice and snow removal, while a state agency may have the responsibility of replacing guardrails or filling potholes on an interstate. Before you attempt to take the proper steps to take legal action against a government entity, you want to figure out who is responsible for which type of road maintenance, and whether that entity can be sued for any alleged wrongdoing on their part. While it is customary for government entities to perform maintenance work themselves it is also possible that non-governmental actors may be hired by cities, counties and states to perform the work on their behalf. In those instances, an action against the third-parties may be viable.
What information do I need to file a claim against a government entity?
Some of the information you will need to file a claim against a government entity for failure to maintain the roads is the name of the road, the direction that you were traveling, the exact location of the road defect, and the names and contact information of any witnesses. You may also want to note the physical characteristics of a road or the road defect, such as the size of the pothole. If possible, you want to take pictures. If you are unsure of which government entity to file the claim against, you have the ability to send the claim to as many government entities as possible.
Are there special rules associated with filing claims against the government?
Every state has different rules for filing claims and lawsuits against the government. Although these government entities contain special immunity that prevents citizens from suing them for actions or inactions, you can sue a government entity for failure to properly maintain the roads. In Oklahoma, the Governmental Tort Claims Act governs claims against governmental entities and sets forth specific requirements for those cases compared to non-governmental claims.
Initially you have to file what is known as an administrative claim with the agency. You must keep in mind that you only have one year to notify the government entity in writing of the incident that happened and how much compensation you want. This is known as a tort claim. If your notice falls outside of this time frame, or you notify the wrong entities, you may lose out on your ability to file a claim altogether.
Once you submit your claim, the government entity has 90 days to respond to your claim. The entity may decide to pay some or all of your damages, and you may avoid going to court altogether. If the government entity rejects your claim, you have six months to file a lawsuit.
At Biby Law Firm, we have the experience and resources to take on government agencies and large corporations. In addition, if a case is outside of our expertise, we will work to have our file referred to someone that is competent in the area. Our skilled Tulsa personal injury lawyers understand what’s required to fight the big companies. For help with any Tulsa car accident case, call us at 918-574-8458, or use our contact form to make an appointment. We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.