Practice Area: Dangerous Public Property


As we drive down a road or highway we don’t normally analyze the adequacy of the shoulder next to the traveled way, but the size and quality of the shoulder can cause or worsen an accident. There are guidelines that address shoulders because it is well known that vehicles need a recovery area in the event that they travel out of the lane. Often, single vehicle accidents can be linked to inadequate shoulders on the roadway.

When a roadway shoulder is too small, drops off too steeply, or is made of the wrong material, it can actually cause a car to lose control. For example, soft shoulders are often made of gravel or other non-asphalt material. When a vehicle has two wheels on the road and two wheels on the soft shoulder, it causes different coefficients of friction on wheels, often leading to an overcorrection and accident.

In order to properly investigate these incidents, the attorney must dig into the design and “as-built” plans to determine the intended shoulder dimensions and materials and whether or not the roadway was in a dangerous condition.


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