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Date Modified: March 21, 2023

Caltrans road repair symbol. CalTrans Accident Attorneys

Need Help Suing Caltrans For A Roadway Injury? Our Injury Attorneys Can Answer Your Important Questions Now!

Welcome to the world-famous website. We think you already know that the path upon which travel occurs is how we get our kids to and from school. It also takes us to and from our homes in our cars, bicycles, and motorbikes. So you expect the lanes and avenues to be as safe as possible. But the safety of your expressways is mainly in government agencies’ hands.

Each city and county will have its crews to service your surface street. However, the state of California maintains freeways and many highways. And our Los Angeles-based car accident lawyers have seen many instances where Caltrans was at fault for wrecks.

Caltrans Truck on the Freeway

Caltrans Repairs and Oversees New Construction and Repairs of State Thoroughfares.

California has its pathway and repair construction agency. That government agency is “Caltrans.” And this is our page dedicated to understanding negligence 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 became an injury statistic, you may have a right to sue Caltrans. Because it happened on a public road, negligent failure to act by Caltrans is a legal theory of liability that Ehline Law pursues. But if Caltrans is a party, it could also be negligent inaction that caused the wreck.

However, the California Department of Transportation (“DOT”) may also be at fault. Although your case may only be against a city or county construction crew, your lawyer must research who controls the road.

DOT and Caltrans Must Advise of Dangers and Repair Them.

Caltrans and its parent, the DOT, are responsible for repairs on the roadways. However, failure to warn of a danger or threat when they know about it is reckless and negligent. In any event, their State charter includes fixes of the freeway and highway guardrails and installing or repairing missing medians. And when they set up construction zones, this organization should adequately warn traffic of dangers. So they must advise drivers about hazards like sinkholes, open trenches, etc.

Failing to do their jobs right can result in severe 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 improperly. 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 become 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 California roads safe takes all available government employees.

Methods of Holding Caltrans and Agencies Responsible.

First responders assist spinal cord injury car accident victim spun out on the slick, wet road surface off the LA Freeway.After a vehicle injury on the main artery with roadway defects, try contacting Ehline Law Firm. This is because we hold California’s 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, our peers recognize us as the paramount experts in our field of practice. Even our opponents see us as honorable, courageous legal knights. We shall act as your sword and shield in your pursuit of justice.

Against the odds, we strike hard and fast. Ehline uses technical legal maneuvers to get you a tactical and strategic advantage over the government. That way, you can win the most money for your terrible injuries that were not your fault.

And don’t think for a minute that California’s career defense attorneys won’t try and short-change you. But never fear; they know we take no prisoners at ELFPI. We help level the playing field and get you money. Call (213) 596-9642 or read on to learn more.

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 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 up. 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, for example, you can go after funds for moderate and severe injuries. 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.

Don’t be embarrassed or feel you are doing the state a disservice by seeking monetary damages. However, keep in mind that you have minimal time under the Government Code to sue CalTrans. Also, understand that suing the government carries a stricter, heightened duty.

So the afflicted party must jump through certain hoops to 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 monetary damages. But certain enumerated exceptions apply.

Fairness Means You Can Sue the Government When Your Servants Misbehave.

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 the 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 to Sue Public Servants

But along with the legislation, California’s politician’s built-in special rules make it harder to sue in these cases. 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

The firm is all about helping downtrodden consumers get their day in court and money. 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 civil 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 point 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 be mitigated or eliminated.

What Do the Statistical Numbers Say About Dangerous Roads?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And real roads in a state of disrepair can lead to fatalities and horrific suffering. According to statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration:

  • Thirty-two thousand seven hundred nineteen people died on highways across the United States in 2013.
  • Both 2012 and 2013’s numbers were higher than they were in 2011.
  • Over 10,000 people lost their lives due to alcohol-related crashes in 2013 alone.
  • Four thousand seven hundred thirty-five pedestrians and 743 bicyclists were killed, with over 100,000 injured.

These numbers are sobering and highlight the need for action to prevent such accidents. Dangerous roads will typically have conditions like poor designs, construction, or lack of repairs. The public has the right to expect safe and properly maintained roads.

Types of Road Defects:

  • Poor road designs, including curves and turns.
  • Surface defects, including potholes, grooved pavement, and loose gravel.
  • Bridges with inferior methods.
  • Poor placement of median dividers and guardrails.
  • Improper management of construction zones.
  • Inadequate lighting at construction or resurfacing projects.
  • Ominous road signs or traffic signals.
  • Dangerous Road Injury.

Roads that become unsafe not only hurt drivers. These hazardous areas of ingress and egress can cause pedestrians and bicyclists harm. Sometimes, a driver cannot see a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian due to the road or improper lighting conditions.

Motorcyclists and bicyclists can get hurt or pass away. When there is excess gravel or grooved pavement, problems may become compounded. Drivers lose vehicle control because of the significant friction coefficient on pavement or loose gravel.

What Are Some of the Common Dangers Associated With CalTrans Roadwork?

Understand that injury can get avoided when Cal-Trans does its 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 another 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 to their death in such a situation. Also, a car could fall into a sinkhole or construction ditch 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 cars 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 the transport of heavy freight are hazardous 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 the 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’s within your grasp.

 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 to or caused the mishap. And if there is a flat shoulder, it should not present a risk to motorists. The same goes for ongoing roadway construction. Then Caltrans must warn motorists of dangers.

Traffic Signals and Phasing

The entity overseeing is responsible when there are wrong signals or inoperable traffic lights. Motorists should not get put at risk of harm when traveling on roadways. And the agency in charge is liable for inappropriately maintained roads and streets under their management. So these types of improper maintenance issues can be a basis for liability. And that way, consumers, with Ehline’s help, can hold the entity responsible.

Most of all, the design of roadways must meet precise specifications and standards. And these are subject to change as new legislative enactments come down the pike. 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.
  • A road created an unreasonable risk of harm or injury or was defective.
  • The entity either had a warning or actual notice and did not correct the issue within a reasonable time.
  • 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’s Failing to Act In Keeping Roads Safe Include:

  • Minor things like busted windshields from loosened gravel or construction debris are still expensive to repair. Or damage could be superficial scratches to paint, chipped custom wheels, and blown-out custom tires – all costly to fix. But CalTrans workers are also known for creating hazards that cause more severe damage to a motor vehicle’s body and frame. Remember, with the right legal help, suspension damage, bent wheels, blown tires, and even total loss of the car are all recompensable.
  • If you were driving a convertible or a car rolled into a roadway obstruction created by CalTrans, you could suffer a severe head wound. So you may have a concussion, terrible brain injury, or death.
  • Blindness from flying objects or unfastened equipment is also a potential outcome. And all this leads to the State of California as a government claim for monetary damages, believe it or not.
  • Deafness or hearing loss from explosions are potential claims when construction equipment or explosions blow out workers’ and bystanders’ eardrums.
  • 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 are possible anytime you deal with CalTrans and its road projects.

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

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 prices 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 a contractor delivers 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 it insulates Caltrans.

Under the agency’s doctrine of “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, other cargo, etc.

How Do I Identify Liable Agents and Assign Caltrans to Sue?

Theorizing, even for a lawyer, is complex. Often there are multiple defendants. Each one will have 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, you can get on the road to suing. Next, we focus on bringing you the maximum compensation in a sufficient sum to make you legally whole. As discussed, this is usually done with a government claim, negotiations, and court.

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

Evaluating the Roadway Dangers

All roadways are not legally required to be in perfect condition or free from imperfections. Hence, each case must be evaluated to determine if the standard of care has 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 victims’ 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 a $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. We have provided resources to learn more about the California Tort Claims Act. (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.

Expert and experienced legal professionals possess all these damage caps. 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 an excellent 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 X-rays and an MRI to help rule out spine and brain injuries, etc.
  • Engage in physical therapy. And follow your physician’s instructions as to care and maintenance.
  • Keep a journal or take videos and pictures of the bruising and healing process. So now you have a progression record.
  • Do not ever speak to anyone other than your duly retained attorney about your case. 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 CalTrans Accident Lawyer Immediately?

When a vehicle incident on the roadways has occurred, the crash may have been Caltrans’s fault. So rapidly, contacting us 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 to get repairs done so more people don’t sue.

Poor road design or lack of road maintenance that contributes to accidents complicates legal claims. Last, if the liable party is a state or government entity, a short time frame to file can present a roadblock to getting compensation.

Many cases require investigations and experts in the industry. Most of all, having a reputable car accident lawyer is beneficial because the government and state have significant resources to fight against paying out a fair settlement. But an experienced accident has the skills to file a claim within the time limit and fund the litigation of your case.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Los Angeles Cal Trans Accident Lawyer Today

Under the Tort Claims Act, victims generally only have six months to file the damages claim from when the crash occurred. The claim could be due to a Caltrans crash in Southern California and Los Angeles. And as discussed above, these claims are complex. So don’t sleep on your legal rights. Caltrans negligence lawyers are awaiting your urgent call at (213) 596-9642.

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients.
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Michael Ehline

Top Injury lawyer, Michael Ehline, Esq.
We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.