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Who is Responsible For Dangerous Roads?

By Jeff Twersky on

The Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) designs all of our state roads, and is required to do so according to standards that it has adopted. While it pays large construction companies to build them, the WSDOT supervises construction to make sure the roads are built as designed.

So, what happens when a road isn’t designed according to the state’s own standards? People can get badly hurt, and when they do, the odds are that the DOT will deny that it did anything wrong. The DOT will say just about anything to avoid being responsible for your injuries.

We recently settled a case in which our client was hit head-on on a major state highway that was under construction in Snohomish County. The DOT was required to design a plan for traffic while that construction was underway, which it did. As part of that plan, the DOT should have put up signs warning drivers that the road was narrowing from two lanes to one lane, as well as having the narrowing lanes, what is called a taper, a certain length. They didn’t. Under both federal and state regulations, the warning signs were put up 700 feet closer than they should have been to the taper, and the narrowing or taper was only half as long as it was supposed to be.

Consequently, a driver heading towards our client didn’t know the road was narrowing until too late. The driver tried to change lanes, clipped another car, went out of control, and hit our client head-on.

The road did not meet the federal or state standards, and yet the DOT denied that it had not designed this traffic plan properly and that it was responsible for our client’s serious injuries:

The project engineer, who was in charge of the design of the construction, denied knowing anything about the design of the traffic plan. The DOT’s inspectors, who had decades of experience, and who inspected the construction project every day, testified that they would definitely have recognized if the warning signs had not been placed in the right place or if the taper was not long enough, but they did not see anything wrong. The engineer who designed the plan testified that he did not have to meet the state’s standards because the DOT had approved a deviation from the design standards for a different construction project more than 10 years earlier, ignoring the DOT’s regulations that said he could not rely upon the earlier deviation and had to request another deviation for each project.

From our experience, if you are looking for accountability from the Washington State Department of Transportation, you’ll need to hire an attorney, because WSDOT will deny, deny, deny. Kadish Twersky personal injury lawyers understand these types of case. If you require a professional, experienced auto accident attorney, contact Kadish Twersky today at (425) 259-1841 for a free consultation today.

This website includes general information about legal issues to be used for educational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances or to create an attorney-client relationship.


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