Road Hazards in Chicago
Chicago is one of the busiest metropolitan areas in the United States. Many Illinois residents regularly visit Chicago for work and leisure. It is also a major business city, and professionals from all over the country travel to and from Chicago for various reasons every day. Like most other metropolitan areas, Chicago roads sometimes fall to disrepair, and other road hazards can easily cause serious accidents. All Chicago drivers and visitors to Chicago should be aware of the most common road hazards, how to avoid them, and what to do if one causes an accident.
Different Road Hazards in the Chicago Area
Some road hazards like construction zones are easy to spot. Others, like potholes, can be unavoidable and cause serious damage to a vehicle.
- Potholes are large chunks of missing asphalt from the road, causing depressions that can easily knock a car’s wheels out of alignment or even cause an accident.
- Potholes often vary in size. It is usually the responsibility of the government agency with jurisdiction over a particular road to address and fix potholes on that road.
- Debris from car accidents, trees, shredded truck tires, and other objects in the road can severely damage a vehicle. Drivers should take care to avoid such obstacles without suddenly swerving into another lane.
- Wildlife can easily cause an accident. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and even dogs and cats wandering into the road could potentially cause a serious accident, or a driver may swerve to avoid hitting an animal and cause an accident with another driver or an object.
- Roads left in disrepair can potentially cause serious accidents. Just like potholes, responsibility for road maintenance typically falls to a government agency. A local government would be responsible for residential and access roads in an area. The state would handle state routes and expressways. The federal Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining the country’s interstate highways.
Liability for accidents caused by road hazards can be unclear at first. When liability falls to something like wildlife or a natural disaster, the injured driver may need to use his or her own auto insurance policy to pay for the damages.
Filing a Claim Against a Government Agency
When a road in disrepair or a pothole causes an accident, the injured driver may face a difficult road to recovery. Filing an injury claim against any government agency is far more difficult than pursuing legal action against a private person or company. Depending on the agency responsible for the road where the accident occurred, the claimant could face several significant roadblocks in terms of recovery.
- Filing an injury claim against any government entity almost always requires giving notice. Failing to meet the notice requirement could lead to losing the right to recovery.
- Claims against government entities almost always have much shorter statutes of limitations or time limits for filing injury claims. The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Illinois is two years, but the statute of limitations for a claim against a government agency could be as short as 90 or 180 days.
- Claimants who file injury claims against government offices may face limitations in terms of compensation. Most government agencies uphold caps or limits on damages for private citizens’ injury claims against those agencies.
- Some government agencies have sovereign immunity that frees them from liability for personal injury claims. However, such agencies may have some type of settlement process for claimants that offers minimal coverage. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
If you or a loved one recently had a car accident in the Chicago area due to a road hazard that was impossible to safely avoid, contact a Chicago accident lawyer as soon as possible to determine your best options for legal recourse. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates have extensive experience with personal injury claims in Illinois.