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Can the government be held liable for a car accident?

There are times when Arizona residents may question the safety of the roads, either in their local community or across the state. Most people tend to know of at least one area where car accidents seem to occur frequently. Some have even been involved in or seen collisions that have occurred on streets that are under construction. Regardless of when and where a car accident happens, it is certainly reasonable to question whether the government may be held liable for any damages sustained -- if road safety issues are a concern.

What if an accident happens on a road that is known to be dangerous or where adequate warnings have not been posted? The Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled on a case of this nature. The state was sued by the family of an individual who was killed in a car accident several years ago. The victim's family claimed that the state failed to post adequate warnings for a section of Interstate 10 that did not have a median barrier. The claim asserts that the lack of the barrier and proper warning contributed to their loved one's death.

The Arizona Supreme Court decided this case earlier in May. According to the court, the state is protected from lawsuits -- if it provides the public with proper postings of potential hazards. In this specific case, the court also ruled that the family could proceed with legal action against the state due to the alleged failure to warn motorists of the potential danger.

Can the government be held liable for any damages sustained in a car accident? The answer really is case specific. While state and local governments are protected under the law, there are certain claims that can be successfully litigated against the government. Arizona residents who have been injured or lost loved ones in car accidents in which road safety concerns or lack of hazard warnings may have contributed to the incidents may pursue legal actions -- such as personal injury or wrongful death claims -- against the governing bodies deemed responsible for the stretches of road in question.

Source: ktar.com, "Arizona court rules for state in highway accident liability", May 8, 2015

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