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Dangerous Flash Flooding on Highway

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who said: “My wife was seriously injured when she lost control of her vehicle after it hydroplaned on a state highway during a heavy downpour. I’ve since learned that the state has received numerous complaints about this portion of the highway having issues with flash flooding during heavy rain storms, but never did anything about it. Can we sue the state?”

Generally, the government can be held liable for damages caused by dangerous defects and/or conditions on public roadways.

Keep in mind, there are strict rules about suing the government, including very limited time frames for bringing actions against the government. We have explained these rules in other episodes.

But for purposes of this caller’s question, we’ll assume the deadline by which to file a claim against the government has not expired.

That said, the state has a duty to ensure that it’s public roads are safe.

There are many ways a state can breach its duty to provide safe roads to the public, including, but not limited to failing to use reasonable care in designing or constructing roads, and failing to properly maintain roads.

In this caller’s example, the state was aware of the flash flooding problem on this particular stretch of highway, yet apparently did nothing to fix the problem.

Perhaps the state failed to clear out storm drains and catch basins in the area, thereby giving rise to the flash flood problem.

Alternatively, perhaps the state failed to close the portion of dangerous highway despite being aware of the flooding problem and the impending severe storm event.

There are a variety of possible reasons a state could fail in its duty to provide the public with safe roads and highways.

Each situation is unique and it’s important to seek a good lawyer to advise you of the strength of your potential claims against a state.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”