Negligence At The Hand Of Cal Trans

Welcome to the Ehline Law Firm. The path upon which travel occurs is how we get our kids to and from school. Also, it is what takes us to and from our homes. So we expect the avenues to be as safe as possible. But the safety of our expressways is in the hands of mainly government agencies.

Each city and county will have their crews for the surface street. However, the freeways and many highways get maintained by the State of California. And our Los Angeles based car accident lawyers have seen many instances where Caltrans was at fault for wrecks.

Caltrans Repairs and Oversees New Construction of State Thoroughfares.

California has its own pathway construction agency. That government agency is “Caltrans.” And this is our page dedicated to understanding lawsuits against Caltrans. So when state roads become unsafe, you come here. Our negligence lawyers in California assist victims wounded in catastrophic government claims cases. Often these involve roadside collisions.

So when there is a vehicle wreck, in which you or a loved one gets injured, you may have a Caltrans case. Because it happened on a public road, it was potentially caused due to a negligent failure to act. But if Caltrans is a party, it could also be a negligent inaction that caused the wreck.

But it is also possible the California Department of Transportation (“DOT”) is at fault. Although your case may only be against a city or county construction crew. So your lawyer will need to research who had control over the road itself.

DOT and Catrans Must Advise and Repair

Caltrans and its parent, the DOT are responsible for repairs on the roadways. Their charter includes repairs of freeway and highway guardrails. Also, Caltrans repairs and replaces improperly installed or missing medians. And when they set up construction zones, this organization is supposed to warn traffic of dangers adequately. So they must advise drivers as to hazards like sinkholes, open trenches and so forth.

Failing to do their jobs right can result in serious injuries during a vehicle accident. Or it may cause the crash due to a roadway defect or repair. Sometimes the repair is presently being performed in an improper manner. Noteworthy here is that these are areas where more accidents occur.

  • Billion Dollar Repair Budgets and the CHP

This department has a multi-billion dollar budget. The California Highway Patrol alerts the DOT of a problematic geographic area on the freeway. So if it’s on the highway or streets under the state’s jurisdiction, it is their job to evaluate it. Furthermore, the CHP could potentially become named as a defendant for its failure to warn.

And on the spot, the CHP needs to see what can be done on the course. They must divert traffic down the boulevard to make the problem area safer for motorists. Keeping every inch of the California roads safe takes all of the available government employees.

Methods of Holding Caltrans and Agencies Responsible.

After a vehicle injury on a main artery with roadway defects, try contacting Ehline Law Firm. This is an excellent way to hold your government responsible. Attorney Michael Ehline is an awarded member of the Circle of Legal Trust. Also, he is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Next, he is an A-rated member of the BBB. Last, he has received awards from Super Lawyers, and Legal Torch, to name just a few.

Having recovered millions of dollars for seriously hurt victims of roadway mishaps, we are recognized by peers. Even our opponents see us as honorable, courageous legal knights. We shall act as your sword and your shield in your pursuit of justice. Against the odds, we strike hard and fast. Ehline maneuvers to get you a tactical and strategic advantage over the government. And their career defense attorneys know we take no prisoner. To learn more, call (888) 400-9721, or read on.

Picture of crane taken by a lawyer.

Crane digging

Contents:

Suing Under the Government Claims Act for Personal Injuries Makes Freeways and Roads Safer

If you or a jury want to decide upon a case against the state, we must first dis-spell some conventional notions. Let’s first discuss the propriety against suing the state. Number one, the government like everyone one else can make mistakes.

We fought a Revolutionary War against a government that made “too many” mistakes. So Americans inherently know that public servants can fail to act, or act improperly. Accordingly, the federal government and most states have their own Tort Claims Acts. (Read about the California Tort Claims Act here).

The Act allows taxpayers like you to apply redress for your grievances. Hence, you can go after funds for moderate and severe injuries, for example. Also, the right to petition the government for redress is part of our Constitutional Republic. Furthermore, it is an important tradition we inherited via English Common Law.

Don’t Be Embarrassed to Sue the State – But Be Prepared to Jump Through Hoops.

So don’t be embarrassed or feel that you are doing the state a disservice by seeking money damages. Keep in mind that you have a very limited time to sue CalTrans however. Also understand that suing the government carries with it a stricter, heightened duty.

So the afflicted party must jump through certain hoops in order be enabled to sue. And this is because of the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. Most of the time, the state is immune from being sued for money damages. But certain enumerated exceptions apply.


Fairness Means You Can Sue the Government When they Act Improperly.

Ultimately, our legislature felt the doctrine of ABSOLUTE immunity conflicted with the idea of a “government for the people.” After all, our founders felt that the government, above all else, must be held accountable. Otherwise, it would be unfair to victims. So lawmakers sided with our founders. They agreed that the power of the King (The State) had to be kept in check.

Special Rules Make it Harder.

But along with the legislation, California’s politicians built in special rules. And this legislative framework makes it very hard for an unrepresented tort victim. Good luck to the victim in propria persona fulfilling the tenuous and demanding notice requirements. Hence, it’s probably time to hire a lawyer.

Attorneys Help Navigate CalTrans Claims – Focus Public Outrage.

Helping downtrodden consumers get their day in court and money is what the firm is all about. Ehline fights to get media coverage and public awareness to spotlight your case. By lobbying, Ehline makes sure politicians get the problem fixed. We want public servants to fear the voters, not the other way around. When there is an outrage, and the public is aware, the courts become less clogged.

But your case is helping to make the highways safer for every motorist one case at a time. A public verdict against CalTrans means they will likely take action. So now they will improve the problem. So hiring great lawyers means CHP dangers for motorists can become mitigated or eliminated.


What Are Some of the Common Dangers?

Understand that injury can get avoided when Cal-Trans does their job. Knowledge like that helps consumers get a better grasp of who may be responsible. And someone usually is liable for their injury or death claims. Furthermore, liability may rest with this powerful governmental agency in some cases. Examples include:

  • Falling Objects. (Cement dust, and other foreign residue that irritates or penetrates your eyes/body).
  • Failure to Install a Manhole Cover over a sewer, or cover a trench. Even failing to warn or put up a proper barricade can kill. (A walker or jogger could fall right to their death in such a situation. Also, a car could fall in and explode. And that could kill everyone on board).
  • Unrepaired potholes can cause single vehicle incidents all day long. And they can maim every day until fixed. (Read more about single vehicle accidents here).
  • Cal Trans repair vehicles may not tie down their heavily laden vehicles correctly. And this can lead to a load of supplies, equipment, chemicals or cargo getting released. Ultimately, they can fall on quickly approaching, light passenger cars. Worse, they can hit two-wheeled vehicles. Accidents involving transport of heavy freight are particularly dangerous and life threatening. Think about the “wide load” signs on those big trucks. These are those vehicles carrying heavy steel bridge building equipment. Also, they often string and service steel cables. Hence, they support repair of things like the Golden Gate Bridge and so on. So you may have a claim against the state and not even know it.

 

Some Examples of Defective Roadway Caused Accidents.

Roadway accidents get thought of as occurring due to driver error. But that is not how all accidents happen when we drive cars. Some mishaps get caused by a defective highway or surface street. When a car crash occurs from broken streets or roadways, certain rights become activated. Then you can hold the state or government entity liable.

The car accident may have gotten caused due to poor maintenance or defective designs. So these could have contributed or caused the mishap. And if there is a flat shoulder, it should not present a risk to motorists. Same goes with ongoing roadway construction. Then Caltrans has a duty to warn motorists of dangers.

Signals and Phasing.

When there are improper signals or inoperable traffic lights, the entity overseeing is responsible. Motorists should not get put at risk or harm when traveling on roadways. And the agency in charge is liable when roads have not been properly maintained. These types of improper maintenance can be a basis for liability. So that way consumers can hold the entity responsible.

Most of all, the design of roadways must meet certain specifications and standards. And these are subject to change. Then there are states such as California. They do not require highways to become updated to construction standards. In that case, it only gets required when these standards or specifications get updated.

Navigating government claims like this takes a skilled professional with experience. Furthermore, someone trained in highway defect cases knows what standards and specifications to apply.

To be successful, four things to prove:

  • An entity was in charge of the roadway that caused the damages.
  • There was a road that created an unreasonable risk of harm or injury or was defective.
  • The entity either had a warning or actual notice and within a reasonable amount of time did not correct the issue.
  • An unsafe or defective condition of the roadway was the direct cause. Also, this is known as the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Common Injuries and Damages From the Government Failing to Act In Keeping Roads Safe Include:

  • Minor things like busted windshields, scratches to paint, chipped custom wheels. But it includes the more dangerous damages to the primary vehicle body, frame. Also, suspension damage, bent wheels, blown tires, and even total loss of the vehicle are all recompensable.
  • If you were driving a convertible, or a car that rolled to a roadway obstruction, you could suffer a severe head wound. So you may end up with a concussion or terrible brain injury.
  • Blindness from flying objects or unfastened equipment is also a potential outcome. And this leads to a suit against the State of California for government claims, believe it or not.
  • Deafness or hearing loss from explosions are potential claims.
  • In far-reaching cases, amputation and dismemberment of limbs can occur. And it could even lead to loss of use of limbs, such as paraplegia. Also, this can cause bowel control failures like incontinence.
  • Shock and damage to the central nervous system is also a distinct possibility.

These are just a few of the many injuries and safety failure scenarios involving negligent acts. So merely driving down the lane means potential injuries damages to citizens, vacationers, and other visitors. Hence, if you ingress and egress throughout the gigantic Golden State, you are a potential victim.

Money Can Run Out Fast in a Caltrans Claim.

Costs you would sue for include a rental car bill that remains unpaid. Maybe your insurance doesn’t cover it, for example. But costs also include things like hospital and ambulance bills as well. So money can run out fast when you are not working and healing up.


Respondeat Superior and Caltrans.

But what if a Caltrans line contractor or agent did not have enough insurance to cover your bills? So for example, what if it is a contractor delivering gravel from another company? The answer is that many private companies with minimal insurance get contracts from Caltrans. But guess what? Just because they work on the transit roads, does not necessarily mean that insulates Caltrans.

Under the doctrine of agency, or “respondeat superior,” Caltrans is ultimately responsible for its negligence. After all, it failed to direct and or control construction properly. So Caltrans could be liable for the inter and intrastate transportation of building materials, and other cargo, etc.

How Do I Identify Liable Agents and Assigns of Caltrans to Sue?

Theorizing, even for a lawyer is difficult. Often there are multiple defendants. Each one will have their own assets and insurance coverage. Obviously, the deepest pockets, the better. A self-represented plaintiff will likely tank their case.

Of course, contacting Ehline will help you end your theorizing. For example, Caltrans may own or control what you thought was a private parking lot. What if the accident took place there? Most of all, you can see how quickly a case can become convoluted. A lawyer can isolate each issue and identify the rifts and theories.

The Identified Parties – Payment for Injuries.

So once you have isolated the parties, now you can get on the road to suing. Next, we focus on trying to get you the maximum recompense in a sufficient sum to make you legally whole. As discussed, this gets done with a government claim, negotiations, and court most of the time.

Ehline knows how to do this under the laws of California. And even perhaps we can do this under federal laws.

Evaluating the Roadway Dangers.

It is not required legally for all roadways to be in perfect condition or free from imperfections. Hence, each case must get evaluated to determine if the standard of care had been breached. If so, the public entity will be liable. But having legal counsel is essential in these types of claims. Ehline is among a handful of lawyers who have experience in this area.

Do Government Agencies Limit Damages for Victims?

Another factor in getting paid is some states enacted legislation hindering victim’s recovery. So that will limit the amount the plaintiff/injured party can recover from the government. Here is a list of states and their damages caps guidelines. So these do not become cut and dry numbers in those states. It’s called a cap on compensation. For example, there may be $250,000 cap for a state or city entity. And there could be a lower amount of $100,000 against a county entity.

California Does Not Cap Damages In Cases Against Government Agencies

In a Caltrans case, only filing fees get affected by the asserted damages. To learn more about the California Tort Claims Act we have provided resources. (See also Cal. Const. art. III, §5, Cal. Government Code §§815 et seq., §820.2, §8655, §818.8, §822.2, §818).

Compare and Contrast Florida Government Claims with California.

Contrast California with Florida, which caps attorney’s fee percentages and total damages amounts. (See also Florida Statute 768.28). Some would say California is better for victims. But then again, Florida has no state income tax. So it all depends on your status as a guest or a resident.

The Inherent Unfairness in Capping Victim’s Damages.

Most agree it is unfair that public servants can have their egregious behavior capped in dollars. Also, it encourages public servants to harm citizens. It is a license to kill or maim. Most lawyers think capping fee percentages is absurd. All this does is discourage victims from finding a good lawyer. You get what you pay for.

Anyways, all these damages caps are something possessed by the expert and experienced legal professional. And only lawyers can best discuss these issues with the injured client. Ehline can answer most of these questions by phone. So it is probably a very good idea to call us. Do so and understand more about your rights to the money.


Essential Steps to Take Immediately Following a DOT Caused Accident

Below is by no means an exhaustive list. But a wounded victim should at a minimum, take the following steps:

  • Get medical care and take an ambulance to the hospital.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene, preferably following the collision.
  • Snap Xrays and an MRI to help rule out spine injuries and brain injuries, etc.
  • Engage in physical therapy. And follow your physician’s instructions as to care and maintenance.
  • Keep a journal or even take videos and pictures of bruising and healing process. So now you have a progression record.
  • Do not ever speak to anyone about your case other than your duly retained attorney. And make sure you have a signed retainer.
  • Understand that you must not only file a government claim within six months. But also know that there could be more than one person at fault. So make sure you hire a great lawyer.

Protect Your Government Claim By Speaking to a Lawyer Immediately?

When a vehicle incident on the roadways has occurred, the crash may have been the fault of Caltrans. So contacting us rapidly can help protect your legal rights in many situations. And it is a way to force Caltrans to use the billions of tax dollars they receive already.

But now Caltrans must use that money to ensure the roadways are safer instead of on employee bonuses. Every motorist deserves this. Caltrans negligence lawyers are waiting for your urgent call at (888) 400-9721.