If you have been injured or have lost someone you love due to Caltrans negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or for your loss.
According to Caltrans, 10 people die every day on California’s transportation system. This does not even include those who have been injured while using the freeways and airports subject to Caltrans’ management.
For immediate assistance with an injury you’ve received or for death of a loved one, call us today for a free consultation at 949-973-6478.
What Does Caltrans Do?
The California Department of Transportation, abbreviated as “Caltrans,” is a California governmental agency. Caltrans is responsible for managing California’s freeways and highways, inter-city rail services, and permitting/ inspecting California’s public use airports.
Caltrans is responsible for ensuring the safety of its employees as well as the safety of the users of these California roads, airports, and certain hospital helipads. If you were using one of these means of transportation while injured, Caltrans should be held responsible for its wrongful conduct that caused your injuries.
Can You Sue Caltrans for Negligence?
If you were injured on Caltrans owned property, you may have a claim against Caltrans for their wrongful conduct that was the cause of your injury. It doesn’t matter whether you were a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, or in your car.
However, since Caltrans is a governmental entity, there are special rules that apply to a lawsuit against Caltrans. Also, the amount of damages you sustained will play a part in determining which path you to take to pursue a claim against Caltrans.
How Do I File a Claim Against Caltrans?
Claims Under $10,000 – To file a claim against Caltrans for an amount involving $10,000 or less (claim amounts within the jurisdiction of small claims court), you can file a claim directly against Caltrans using form LD-0274. You must file this claim within one year or less from the date of your injury.
Claims Exceeding $10,000 – If the amount of damages you suffered exceeds $10,000, you must file a claim with the Government Claims Program first. This is an administrative remedy that must be sought before pursuing a claim in state court. For personal injury or wrongful death claims, your claim must be filed within six months from the date of the incident. For claims involving the loss of physical property only, you have one year to file your claim.
Negligence is normally the basis for a legal claim against Caltrans, although it is possible that a Caltrans employee could intentionally inflict harm on another. If you were intentionally harmed, you also have a potential claim against Caltrans.
Negligence is not an act of intentional harm against another, but rather, any act or omission that falls below the reasonable standard of care owed to those who travel upon Caltrans owned roads, or who use any means of transportation cared for or managed by Caltrans. Caltrans owned and managed property includes about 50,000 miles of freeways and highways throughout the state of California, inter-city rails, and certain hospital helipads.
If you received an injury while using any means of transportation owned or managed by Caltrans, and that injury was caused by Caltrans’ negligence, you may have a claim for the damages you have suffered.
If Caltrans is found negligent, you can be compensated for personal injuries as well as property damage. Specifically, you can recover for the cost of any medical bills, lost wages (past and future), and damage to your vehicle that was caused by Caltrans negligence.
Lawsuit Against Caltrans for Missing Warning Signs
Whether Caltrans can be held negligent for missing warning signs depends on the type of sign, as well as the circumstances surrounding the posting (of failure to past the sign).
Concerning regulatory traffic signs, which include:
- traffic control lights
- stop signs
- yield right-of-way signs and
- speeding signs,
Cal Gov. Code 830.4 says Caltrans cannot be found negligent for failure to install such a signal light or sign. However, in the event where such a sign has been installed, Caltrans may be found negligent if it created a dangerous condition through the warning sign and invited the public to rely on it.
Other Warning Signs
Under Cal. Gov. Code 830.8, Caltrans is generally immune for failure to post warning signs. However, you may be able to recover in a lawsuit against Caltrans for missing warning signs if a signal, sign, marking, or device:
- was necessary to warn of a dangerous condition,
- endangered the safe movement of traffic, and
- would not have been anticipated by a person exercising due care.
Even if the above conditions concerning regulatory and warning signs have been met, the other elements of negligence must still be present, namely: the failure to post the sign or the negligent posting of the sign must have been the foreseeable cause of your injuries.
The interplay between the two government statutes can be a bit confusing, but works as follows: Caltrans cannot be held liable for failure to post the specific types of signs listed in Cal. Gov. Code 830.4, but if a warning sign of the type listed in Cal. Gov. Code 830.8 would have prevented a dangerous condition, then Caltrans can then be held liable for failure to post such a warning sign.
Caltrans Employee Injuries
If you are a Caltrans employee and injured on the job, your general remedy is going to be to pursue a worker’s compensation claim – an administrative process that does not entail a claim of negligence in civil court.
Employers like Caltrans are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance to provide for employees who are injured on the job. With worker’s compensation claims, Caltrans employees do not need to prove their employer was at fault. Rather, they only need to show they were an employee who was injured on the job.
However, Caltrans employs many independent contractors to help work on Caltrans projects, and independent contractors are not eligible for worker’s compensation claims against Caltrans. Thus, if you were an employee of a Caltrans independent contractor and were injured on the job, you may still be able to sue Caltrans for negligence if Caltrans exercised retained control over the job that affirmatively contributed to your injuries.
Get Help with Your Caltrans Negligence Claim
Going up against a government entity can be intimidating, or downright scary. That’s why it’s important to have a fearless attorney who knows your rights fighting for you, to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
For a free consultation to discuss your Caltrans injuries, call us today at 949-973-6478, or click the Free Consultation button below.