A school bus accident in Scott County is reportedly raising questions about the safety of a stretch of highway long known to be dangerous. The accident, which occurred last week, involved a school bus that was travelling along a narrow stretch of road when one of its mirrors was clipped off and a window broken by a commercial garbage truck utilizing a local landfill.
Fortunately, the side-swipe accident did not result in any harm to the children, but the incident has local residents worried about the safety of the road in its current condition. The problems with the roadway have been known for some time. Last fall, a woman died in a crash involving two garbage trucks that collided. Earlier this year, local residents urged county authorities to take action when an expansion of the landfill was proposed. After that, city trucks were no longer allowed to use the road to get to the landfill, and changed to a different route. The recent accident involved an out of state truck contracted by the landfill.
The incident raises important issues about the importance of roadway design and use in motor vehicle accidents. In many motor vehicle accidents, the questions usually concern the drivers involved in the accident and how their negligence or recklessness contributed to accident. In cases involving dangerous road design and use, though, who is liable in the event of an accident?
In some cases, it may be possible to hold state or local government liable for failing to exercise reasonable care in exercising its official duties with respect to roadway design, use approval, maintenance, safety monitoring and so on. Because these services are typically contracted out, sorting out who is liable may be complicated. In cases where liability can be traced back to the local or state government, there is then the issue of immunity.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and how an experienced attorney can help motor vehicle accident victims effectively seek compensation.