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State Supreme Court Finds County May Be Liable for Damages after Failing to Trim Bushes at Intersection

The Supreme Court of the State of Washington recently made a ruling in a motorcycle accident case that could result in the county where the accident occurred being held legally accountable for the plaintiff’s injuries based upon overgrown bushes at an intersection where the accident took place. The plaintiff’s complaint, which had previously been dismissed at the trial level, alleged that the municipality failed to maintain the roadway in a reasonably safe condition to allow motorists stopped at the stop sign to see oncoming traffic and prevent an accident.

sri-lanka-road-1331287Based on the court’s recent ruling, the plaintiff may be entitled to receive damages from the government entities for the injuries he suffered when another motorist turned in front of him and collided with him at the intersection.

A Motorcyclist Is Hit and Seriously Injured After A Motorist Failed to See Him While Turning onto the Highway

The accident which injured the plaintiff in the case of Wuthrich v. King County occurred at the intersection of a smaller road and a highway in King County, Washington. Drivers on the smaller road were controlled by a stop sign, though motorists on the highway had the continuous right of way through the intersection. On June 20, 2008, the plaintiff, who was driving a motorcycle on the highway, was hit by another driver as that driver turned left onto the highway from the smaller road after stopping at the stop sign.

The plaintiff filed a motorcycle accident lawsuit against the motorist who struck him, but also sued the county, as it was apparently clear that overgrown bushes obstructed the motorist’s view of the roadway, and the motorist may not have been able to see the motorcyclist in order to prevent the accident.

The Lower Court Dismisses the Case, But the State Supreme Court Disagrees

After the case was filed, the municipal defendant successfully moved to dismiss the case under the grounds that, as a political subdivision of the state, they were immune from a personal injury suit for failing to maintain a public road. On appeal, it was made apparent that the law the county was relying on was from the 1940s and that the state legislature had since waived the sovereign immunity that the defendant had been claiming. As a result of this waiver, the state supreme court found that the plaintiff may have a claim against the municipal defendant, and sent the case back down to the lower court to determine if the municipality was negligent by not trimming the bushes and if such negligence was a substantial cause of the injuries to the plaintiff, questions which may later be answered by a jury at trial.

Georgia Sovereign Immunity Laws

Like in the State of Washington, the Georgia legislature, as well as voters through constitutional amendment, has passed laws that restrict the general sovereign immunity that states and municipalities have historically enjoyed under American common law. In 1992, the Georgia State Legislature passed the Georgia Tort Claims Act, which allowed the government to be held liable like a property owner would for acts of negligence performed while acting in the scope of the governmental duty. While this act allows significant chances of recovery to the victims of negligence by public employees, the legislature also included 13 exceptions within the law that limit the scope of the government’s liability, as well as strict procedural and time limitations to successfully pursuing a claim against the state or a municipality.

Victims of accidents that may be attributed to unsafe road conditions or other governmental negligence should contact a qualified Georgia personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discover if they have a claim under the Georgia Tort Claims Act and preserve their right to recovery.

Have You Been in an Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident or other crash that can be attributed to unsafe road conditions, the experienced Georgia personal injury and accident attorneys at Miller Legal Services can help you seek compensation for your injuries. Our skilled attorneys and staff have helped hundreds of clients obtain relief, and our detailed knowledge of Georgia law can give you confidence that your case is being handled appropriately. At Miller Legal Services, we represent clients in most personal injury and wrongful death cases, including motorcycle accidents. Call us today at 770-284-3727 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:

The Reach of Negligence Liability Lawsuits in Georgia, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 20, 2016.

Court Dismisses Case Against Driver Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Show Negligence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 6, 2016.