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Can I sue the state of California after a car accident?

It is not uncommon for a car accident or truck accident to have been caused by multiple contributing factors. Aside from the possibly negligent behavior of the other driver, it may be arguable that the road conditions themselves may have helped lead to the collision. This raises the question of whether the state of California or any of its counties, municipalities or government agencies might also be liable.

In this regard, from the perspective of liability for a traffic accident, the possibly good news is that it is not impossible to sue a government entity in California for injuries or property damage resulting from a car or truck accident. The other news, however, is that the California legislature has anticipated the possibility of such lawsuits and has enacted a statute specifically designed to limit such lawsuits.

The law in question, Government Code Section 830-831.8, is quite detailed and provides the state with immunity from lawsuits covering a variety of possible causes. When it comes to road conditions, the statute provides the state with a shield against lawsuits even though at the time of the accident a traffic light may not have been working, a stop sign may not have been present or other traffic control signals or devices may not have been available.

The statute also protects government entities from being sued based on the design of a road as long as they can demonstrate that such design was approved in advance by the legislature or some other agency or body using standards considered to be reasonable at the time. Even if new design standards make the old design obsolete, the law still protects the government entity by giving it a "reasonable time" to comply with the new standard.

In short, while it is not impossible to consider a state agency or other government entity as a possible defendant in a car or truck accident lawsuit, getting past the state law designed to preclude such lawsuits can be difficult. Getting past the law would depend upon circumstances so extraordinary as to make the design, construction or maintenance of the road so unreasonable that the statute would not apply.

This blog post is an overview of a complex area of the law. As such, it is not offered or intended to be relied upon as legal advice. If you have been involved in a vehicle accident, an attorney knowledgeable in California law will be able to help you identify exactly who may be responsible for your injuries and property damage, whether they be individuals, businesses or even a government entity.

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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