Insufficient Road Maintenance Raises the Probability of Accidents in New Jersey

Accidents Caused by Lack of Road Maintenance in New Jersey

When most people think of accidents, they think of two vehicles colliding and one driver being at fault or of someone driving under the influence or texting and crashing into a tree or other object along the side of the road. While these can be accurate depictions of an accident, you can also be in an accident caused by road maintenance—or rather, the lack of it. Poorly maintained roads, with hazards such as potholes, poorly timed traffic lights, fallen or obscured road signs, and more, can be responsible for accidents. If you are injured in an accident caused by deficient road maintenance, you may need to act quickly to file a claim.

Poor New Jersey Road Maintenance Amplifies Accidents

Even the most attentive driver can have an accident due to poor road maintenance, especially when they are driving at night, in bad weather, or on unfamiliar roads. Most poor road conditions are the result of the responsible parties not maintaining the road properly, often due to either a lack of funding or a shortage of appropriate employees. This does not absolve them of responsibility, though. Consider the following ways poor road maintenance increases accidents in New Jersey.

Unrepaired Roads

There are many ways unrepaired roads can lead to accidents, including, but not limited to, potholes, cracks, gaps, and drop-offs in the asphalt. These can pop a tire, causing the driver to lose control and crash into another vehicle, tree, or other objects.

Debris on the road can also cause accidents. Loose items that fall off passing vehicles, tree branches that break and fall into the road, or other items that end up on the road can cause a driver to abruptly swerve to avoid the obstacle, causing a collision with another vehicle or object.

If a road has missing or obstructed signage, these deficiencies can cause a motor vehicle accident. Stop signs that are hidden behind overgrown bushes and road work signs that have fallen down or been moved may cause drivers to take actions they shouldn’t, such as running the stop sign or driving in the wrong lane in a construction zone.

Insufficient Repairs

In some cases, the responsible entity may have made the necessary repairs to the road. Unfortunately, those repairs may not have been properly done, leading to the same damage recurring and possibly worsening. Because drivers believe the repairs have been made, they will drive as though there is no problem, creating the potential for a more severe accident.

Bad Weather 

Bad weather by itself does not necessarily create a road maintenance issue. What bad weather can do, however, is intensify existing road damage. For example, heavy rains can cause flooding due to poor drainage and this may conceal other poor road conditions, such as potholes. Rain can also fill a pothole and cause a driver to think the pothole is just another smooth part of the road until they drive over it. Hail can cause crumbling asphalt and make potholes bigger. Additionally, bad weather can obscure poor road maintenance from a driver’s view until it is too late, particularly at night.

State Highways and Roads: NJDOT’s Jurisdiction

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) maintains all state highways and roads, plus all intersections with state roads. For local roads, municipalities or local divisions are responsible for maintenance, depending on the street in question. Drivers may need to contact the appropriate agency to report a poor maintenance condition, as the agency may not yet be aware of new or worsening conditions.

If a driver is injured in an accident caused by poor road conditions, they may be able to file a claim against the NJDOT, the local division or municipality responsible for maintaining the road. You are required to file a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident, so you do not want to wait long before taking action. 

Additionally, if the government entity responsible for maintaining the road hired a construction contractor to make the repairs, and the repairs were either not made when they claimed they were or were poorly made, the contractor may also be liable.

Insufficient Road Quality Contributes to Various Types of Accidents

Poor road conditions can cause all types of accidents. It can result in single-car collisions: A car may collide with a tree, roadside pole, guardrail, signpost, or other inanimate object. Rear-end collisions are also extremely common. Drivers who are speeding, tailgating, or distracted may rear-end the driver in front of them if that driver suddenly steps on the brakes due to poor road conditions. If a driver pops a tire due to a pothole, crack, gap, or drop off in the concrete, they may lose control of their vehicle and collide head-on with oncoming traffic.

Severe Consequences of Accidents Due to Poor Road Maintenance

Accidents caused by deficient road maintenance can be just as severe as any other accident. This means that drivers may sustain the same types of injuries as they would in an accident not caused by bad roads. Some of these injuries could include whiplash, soft tissue injuries such as sprains or strains, bruises, lacerations, and broken bones.

Adopting Cautious Driving Behavior to Ensure Safety on Poorly Maintained Roads

Contact Our Injury Lawyers for Accidents Due to Road Defects in Hamilton, New Jersey

Fortunately, there are things a driver can do to avoid these types of accidents. First, avoid speeding and tailgating. By driving the posted speed limit and leaving enough distance between themselves and other vehicles, drivers give themselves time to safely maneuver and avoid obstacles, potholes, and other potential dangers. In poor weather, construction zones, or unfamiliar locations, slowing down more may also help avoid an accident.

Pay attention to other drivers. If drivers ahead are braking, changing lanes, slowing down, or otherwise behaving in ways a driver is not expecting, they should slow down and follow suit until they determine what is happening ahead of them.

Always scan the road as you drive. Drivers should keep their eyes moving from side to side ahead of them, looking for indications of poor road maintenance. The sooner a problem is spotted, the sooner the driver can take action to avoid it safely.

Our Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You File a Claim for Damages if You Have Been Injured on a Defective Road in NJ

If you have been injured in an accident caused by deficient or defective road maintenance in New Jersey, our personal injury lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson may be able to assist you in recovering damages for your injuries and property damage. Our attorneys can help you determine who is liable for your injuries as well as what you need to do to file a claim against the responsible party, particularly if it’s a public entity. Because the first step is filing a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident, you will want to act quickly.

Contact our office today at (609) 528-2596 to set up a complimentary consultation with a New Jersey car accident attorney to discuss your case and learn more about your legal rights and options. We represent clients in Mercer County and Middlesex County in towns such as Lawrence, Hightstown, Hamilton, Princeton, Robbinsville, Ewing, Trenton, Windsor, and other New Jersey locations.