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When poor roadside maintenance causes an intersection crash

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Car Accident

There are many ways in which public property could put people at risk of injury or worse. For example, improper sidewalk maintenance in municipal parks could lead to joggers or those in wheelchairs sustaining serious injuries.

In California, certain property that people may associate with private ownership is subject to management by state authorities. The vegetation near the edges of roads, especially near intersections, is subject to state management. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) sends out professionals to trim vegetation and apply pesticides. Vegetation management is important for driving visibility, the protection of native plant life and fire control.

The failure to properly maintain vegetation near busy roadways, especially around intersections, is one example of a dangerous public space that the state or local authorities may have responsibility for when someone ends up hurt.

Why roadside vegetation is often dangerous

Letting plants overtake the shoulder around an intersection can be quite dangerous. The idea that some overgrown bushes or tall grass could cause a crash may initially seem ridiculous. However, a review of crash statistics makes it clear that excessive vegetative growth and improper management could be serious collision risk factors.

A large portion of the crashes that take place every year specifically occur at intersections. The vast majority of those crashes occur due to drivers failing to monitor their surroundings, communicate with others and come to a complete stop in accordance with posted signs or stoplights. That being said, improper vegetation management causes a small but noticeable number of intersection collections each year.

According to an analysis of millions of crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 7.8% of crashes at intersections involve someone turning with an obstructed view.  Those involved in a collision caused by a dangerous intersection where visibility was poor may have reason to blame local authorities or Caltrans for the inadequate maintenance of roadside vegetation.

In particularly severe cases involving egregious overgrowth and terrible crash consequences, a lawsuit holding government authorities responsible for failing in their property maintenance duties to the public might be a viable option. Evaluating every opportunity for compensation can help people reduce the long-term harm they experience because of a motor vehicle crash at a busy and dangerous intersection.