Car Crash After Hitting Water on the Expressway

Transcript: Not long ago a caller said “I was on the expressway last night, it had rained hard, all of a sudden, I hit this huge pond of water covering all lanes and I hit the wall, others wiped out too, what are my legal options?”

Hi, I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub.

Just what legal rights are in play when a crash is caused by water ponding on an expressway?

First, if the government is involved, and it most always is when you are dealing with an expressway, the government cannot be sued except under certain special circumstances. One of those circumstances is that you have to file a timely notice with the government that you intend to make a claim.

Notice typically has to be filed within 180 days of an event. For some government agencies it can be up to 270 days after the event. Consult an attorney as soon as possible if you’re involved in this kind of the crash. Even if you give timely notice to the government as required by the statute, the government can be immune from being held legally responsible for many roadway conditions. When a hazard is created on a roadway because of a weather event, such as a snowstorm or a rainstorm, the government generally cannot be held responsible for damages caused by a natural occurrence.

The real question is: are there ways around the barriers that the government puts up against suing it?
The answer is yes if you act promptly.

First, while the government can be declared immune from a crash directly caused by weather conditions, there are exceptions to that rule. So, don’t hesitate to call an attorney to review the facts.

Second, if there’s a contractor involved, the contractor may be subject to suit, even if the government is immune from suit. For example, suppose a contractor or an engineer or a construction company improperly designed or built the highway so it doesn’t drain properly. If so, they might be liable.

Or, what if a contractor installed a special re-tension pond with a pump that was supposed to pump water away from the roadway, but the pump failed because it wasn’t put in properly, or the switch that was supposed to trigger the pump failed because the sensor that was supposed to come on automatically didn’t work. Or, what if the power went out to the pump and there was no emergency backup power available to the pump. All of these things can lead to potential liability for contractors and engineers. Why do we share this information with you?

Well when we get questions like the one posed in this instance, we assume there are others out there with the same concern, and we hope that by providing general information, it will help people recognize and preserve their legal rights.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700.

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