Appellate Court Discusses the Government’s Responsibility to Maintain Safe Roadways

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a case alleging that the state department of transportation was negligent in allowing an orange construction barrel to obstruct a lane of traffic. The case discusses an issue that will be relevant to many Florida accident victims, specifically, when a government entity can be held liable for the dangerous condition of a public roadway.

Construction ConeState and local governments are responsible to build and maintain public roads. While governments can rarely be held liable based on the dangerous design of a road or intersection, government entities can be held liable when they fail to safely maintain public roads. A recent case illustrates the standard courts apply when reviewing these claims.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was towing a trailer on the highway when she entered a construction zone, where orange construction barrels were placed alongside the single lane of travel that remained open. As the plaintiff continued down the highway, one of the barrels was directly in the lane of travel, and she was unable to avoid clipping the barrel with the awning of her trailer. As a result, the plaintiff’s trailer was damaged, and she could not use it for the remainder of the season.

The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the department of transportation in charge of maintaining the road. The plaintiff claimed that the department was negligent in allowing a misplaced barrel to block the free flow of traffic. However, the plaintiff testified that she did not know how long the barrel had been in the road, nor how it got there.

The department of transportation defended against the plaintiff’s lawsuit by claiming that it had no knowledge of the misplaced barrel, and therefore it could not be held liable for failing to remove it. The department pointed to the plaintiff’s lack of evidence or explanation regarding how the barrel came to be in the road and how long it had been there.

The court agreed with the defendant, explaining that in order to establish liability in this type of case, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant had knowledge of the dangerous condition and failed to take action. Since the plaintiff did not present evidence showing how long the barrel had been there, there was no way the plaintiff could prove that the department had actual or constructive knowledge of the barrel’s placement.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated team of Florida personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank has extensive experience assisting accident victims and their families with seeking the compensation they need and deserve. We provide free consultations to accident victims to discuss their case and go over the options that they may have moving forward. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Florida’s Rule of Evidence Regarding Witnesses’ Inconsistent Statements, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 19, 2017.

Court Finds Question of Whether Defendant Had Knowledge of Dangerous Condition Was a Matter for the Jury, Rejecting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 5, 2018.

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