Hydroplaned and hit guardrail due to poor road maintenance...

by Cee
(California)

I have an 2006 Honda Element, AWD, and was driving in rainy conditions on the 710 Freeway in the Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA area. The rain had let up at this point to a barely-there mist and if you've ever driven on the 710 over near where it intersects the 10 especially, it's a disaster, so there was water everywhere in potholes.

Still, I've had my car for 10 years - I know what it can handle. Within 20 seconds of getting on the freeway though, I could see on the left that orange barrier cones along the shoulder had already been driven into, and other cars had lost control and driven off the road completely, taken the larger, water-filled orange barriers with them. The 710 is a mess.

Not 5 minutes after seeing all of this, I was in the number 3 lane going about 55 at most, and I had just passed some cars on my left (with trucks speeding by on my right) and I went to change lanes into the number 2 lane and I hit a puddle of water and hydroplaned.

The car immediately pulled to the left, and I tried to correct gently right but managed to overdo it I guess, and ended up doing a couple 360s across the number 2 and 1 lanes and slammed into the guardrail backwards, facing oncoming traffic in the number 1 lane. Luckily, I didn't hit anyone else.

Here's my issue... my car was insured as liability only, and the CHP officer said a trucker had stopped and as a witness, clearly stated that I did just hydroplane and so it was 100% my fault. He offered me the option to file a report - which would do me no real service except to raise my insurance payments - or to not, so I opted for not.

So I have no police report as any sort of evidence. I have no photos of the accident, except for plenty of photos of my car and the damage done to it after the fact.

While I was waiting for the tow truck with the CHP officer though, he had mentioned to me that I was already the 3rd or 4th accident on that stretch of the 710 that he had come across that day (my accident was around 1:30 pm). I know inclement weather tends to bring on accidents anywhere, but so many in one segment of highway seems excessive.

This accident has left me with headaches and pain in my neck, back and wrists, and because of that I have lost my job and it is uncertain as to whether it will affect my career long-term.

Is there anything I can do with any of this? Can I bring a case against the city or state for the road being in such poor condition, causing my accident? It's clear it's a consistent problem, since there were other such accidents. Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Hydroplaned and hit guardrail due to poor road maintenance...":

Cee (California):

Unfortunately, under California's Sovereign Immunity statute you are likely barred from pursuing a property damage and personal injury claim against the State of California (or any government agencies or employees within the State of California).

Under California's Government Code Section 815 (a), "A public entity is not liable for an injury, whether such injury arises out of an act or omission of the public entity or a public employee or any other person."

This bar includes compensation for property damage and personal injuries from accidents caused by potholes and poorly maintained roads. Only in certain circumstances may a government entity be held liable for any injuries it causes.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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