As a general rule, in Virginia, local municipalities are responsible for maintaining the roads within their jurisdiction. When a municipality fails to properly maintain a road, and an accident is caused as a result of that failure, the local municipality may be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. However, there are limits to both a municipality’s obligation to maintain the roads as well as the liability that the municipality faces for failing to do so.
According to Virginia law, municipalities are required to safely maintain the roads themselves but not the traffic signals, signs, and roadway markings that are on or near the road. The distinction of what exactly constitutes a “road” can be very nuanced, as a recent case illustrates.
Bibler v. Stevenson: The Facts
Bibler was driving through an intersection in Ohio when she was struck from the side by another motorist. The other motorist had a stop sign, but she explained to the responding police officer that she had failed to see the sign because it was overgrown with foliage. The police officer conducted a brief investigation and agreed with the motorist that the sign was obstructed and could not readily be seen.
Bibler filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the motorist and the city where the intersection was located. The case against the other motorist was settled out of court. However, the city denied liability, claiming that it was entitled to government immunity because the alleged negligence involved the maintenance of a stop sign, rather than the road itself.
In Ohio, as in Virginia, municipalities are only responsible for the maintenance of the road, rather than the “berms, shoulders, rights-of-way, or traffic control devices.” However, if the placement of a traffic control device is required by state law, the stop sign is considered to be part of the “public road” for which the municipality is responsible.
The court determined that since the intersection where the accident occurred consisted of a “through highway,” a stop sign was required. Since state law required the stop sign to be placed at the intersection, the municipality was responsible for its maintenance and was not entitled to immunity.
The Importance of a Dedicated Attorney
The case discussed above is a prime example of how a dedicated attorney’s advocacy can help a client overcome legal hurdles that could otherwise be fatal to the client’s case. Many issues in personal injury law are not black or white, and they require a thorough analysis of the facts and the law. A skilled Virginia personal injury attorney is an invaluable resource for an accident victim seeking fair compensation for their injuries.
Do You Need an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia auto accident, and you believe that the negligence of a government employee or entity may be a cause of your injuries, contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at The Schupak Law Firm. With decades of collective experience representing injured clients in courts across the Commonwealth of Virginia, we understand how to present our clients’ cases persuasively and effectively. Call 703-491-7070 to set up a free consultation today.
See More Blog Posts:
Plaintiff’s Bad-Faith Insurance Claim Allowed to Proceed after Dismissal Is Reversed on Appeal, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 7, 2016.
Summary Judgment in Virginia Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 3, 2017.