Can a City Be Liable for a Deadly Car Crash?

Many factors can contribute to a car accident, from failure to follow traffic signals to inclement weather conditions to dangerous driving activities, such as driving while intoxicated or while distracted. However, not all causes of car accidents are due to driving behavior. Sometimes, you can hold a city or a government entity liable for a deadly car accident. If you lost a loved one in a deadly car accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against these bodies.

How Can You Hold a City Liable for a Car Accident?

When poor road conditions, a lack of signage, or malfunctioning traffic lights lead to an accident, you can hold the government entity responsible for that road maintenance liable for that accident. Poor road conditions can include potholes and sinkholes in the road, cracked or broken pavement, poor or confusing street signage, broken traffic lights, construction debris in the road, narrow roads, and many other qualities that indicate poor road maintenance.

To successfully win the lawsuit against the city or municipal government entity, the government must be responsible for the bad road conditions or traffic errors that led to the accident. Proof that the government acted in negligence in some way is necessary. Legally, the municipal government is responsible for fixing these conditions and failure to do so can be a sign of negligence.

Proving Negligence for a Wrongful Death Claim

If you lost a loved one in a deadly car crash, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the parties responsible for the conditions that led to the crash. To successfully prove a case of wrongful death against a negligent municipal government, you and your Atlanta wrongful death attorney will need to prove four elements.

  • Duty of Care. Your lawyer will need to prove that the municipal government owed a duty of care to keep the road safe to drive on and free of hazards. You can prove this by examining city bylaws and responsibilities, and proving that the municipal government had jurisdiction over the road where the deadly car crash took place. Your wrongful death attorney can help you establish this duty of care.
  • Breach of Duty. Next, your attorney must prove that the municipal government breached their duty of care to keep the road safe. Your lawyer will have to prove that the condition that led to the accident was serious enough so that the city government should have taken steps to remedy the situation and failed to do so. If the government entity had documented complaints about the road condition that led to the accident, you can prove this breach of duty. For example, malfunctioning traffic lights in South Fulton recently led to a deadly car crash. The residents complained regularly about the traffic lights beforehand, and the city still failed to act upon these requests.
  • Causation. Next, your attorney will need to prove that the municipal government’s breach of duty of care caused the accident that led to the deadly car crash. For example, in the South Fulton case, the malfunctioning traffic light led to a confusion over the right of way and a crash at an intersection. The city failed to act upon the concerns of drivers in the area to remedy the situation, so the municipal government’s breach of duty directly caused the recent accident and death.
  • Damages. Finally, your lawyer must prove that the deceased suffered damages because of the car accident caused by the breach of care. Because the deceased died, the death alone proves this element. In addition, the deceased must have generated additional damages that you can claim through the lawsuit, such as final medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of income and potential earnings, and pain and suffering prior to death.

In the state of Georgia, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against a municipal government if you are the surviving spouse, child, parent, or personal representative of the deceased. If you have questions about a wrongful death lawsuit in Atlanta, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible to begin the claims process and collect the compensation your family needs to recover.