Most personal injury automobile accidents that occur on New Orleans’ streets are not the responsibility of the government. While the laws of Louisiana require the Department of Transportation and Development to keep roads and shoulders in a reasonably safe condition, they are not responsible for guaranteeing the safety of everyone who uses a public roadway.
In cases where personal injury accidents have been caused by a road that had been constructed or maintained in a way that was not reasonably safe for motorists, however, the injured party may be able to pursue damages. Louisiana Revised Statute 48 § 35 requires the Department of Transportation and Development to adopt minimum safety standards with respect to highway and bridge design, construction and maintenance. The safety standards are modeled upon those approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Generally, if the department complies with these minimum safety standards, they will be found free from fault when a motorist claims that he or she was injured as the result of improper signage or road markings.
Included in the general duty to construct and maintain roads in a reasonably safe manner is the duty to provide signs and markings to alert drivers about dangerous or unexpected conditions. This duty extends to road construction sites. For example, in Stephens v. State Through Dept. of Transp. and Dev., 440 So.2d 920 (La. Ct. 2 App. 1983), the court found that the Department of Transportation and Development was responsible for providing barriers, signs and markings sufficient to warn an ordinary motorist of dangerous road conditions.
If you have been injured in a car accident and need additional information, we would like to hear from you. Please call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.