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Improper Road Design

Syracuse Lawyers for Car Accidents

Car accidents can result in devastating injuries such as broken bones, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, or disc herniation. Sometimes a car accident is caused not by a negligent driver, but by improper road design. Often, roads are designed by governmental entities. In order to recover damages in a car accident arising from improper road design, you will need to show that the government’s design of the road was unreasonably dangerous. If improper road design caused or contributed to your injuries in a crash, you can speak with the skilled Syracuse car accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano regarding your potential claims.

Improper Road Design

Any aspect of a road’s design can be flawed such that an accident and injuries may result. Safety guidelines and rules should influence the design of a road. However, many roads in New York were designed long ago by roadway engineers. Sometimes a road design that seemed safe many years ago when the road was built proves to be dangerous over time; where there is a history of accidents in a particular spot, the government may need to redesign the road. For example, a road may be improperly designed if road signs don’t comply with New York guidelines in terms of their spacing, or if a guardrail is missing.

If the government fails to study why accidents are occurring in connection with the road design and make modifications in a timely way, it may be held accountable for car accident injuries that occur as a result. Where the proper placement of a sign or guardrail would have prevented a crash and injuries, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit for damages.

In New York, you can recover damages for injuries caused by government negligence. The government is supposed to design and build roads so that motorists will be reasonably safe, taking into account how drivers and pedestrians would foreseeably use highways. There are also situations in which negligent maintenance of a road can lead to harm. However, this is a claim that is distinct from improper road design. In a negligent maintenance case, it may be alleged the defendant who owns the road failed to fix drainage issues, allowed the road to freeze up by failing to apply salt, failed to repair potholes, or failed to repair signs. However, in an improper road design case, you would be alleging that the drainage, signage, or layout of the road was dangerous. Different defenses are available to the government for these different types of claims.


The government is generally protected against injury claims through the doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, it has waived its own immunity under certain circumstances. In an improper road design case, the government may use the qualified immunity defense. Under this doctrine, the government is shielded from injury claims where the design the government approved had a rational basis and wasn’t obviously inadequate. While working up your case, your injury attorney will be looking at aspects of the design that were obviously inadequate and had no rational basis.


If you can establish liability for improper road design, you may be eligible for compensatory damages. These are damages intended to put you back in the position you would have been in had there been no improper road design. They can include both losses that are economic and noneconomic. Economic losses can cover any concrete losses you are facing as a result of the car accident, including medical bills, lost wages, loss of value of household services, and other replacement services. Noneconomic losses include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is available only if your spouse was adversely affected by the injuries you suffered due to improper road design.

Car Accident Attorneys for Injured Victims in Syracuse

It can be difficult to go up against the government in cases where improper road design has caused a car crash in which you were injured or lost a loved one. The seasoned car accident lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano can potentially help you advocate for your rights. We represent people in Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout Upstate New York, including in Wampsville, Watertown, Cooperstown, Lowville, Lyons, Elmira, Canandaigua, Oswego, Binghamton, Oneida, Ithaca, Auburn, Herkimer, and Utica. Call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
"I highly recommend DeFrancisco & Falgiatano - Charlie represented me for a medical malpractice case. He is the best of the best. He is friendly and I am very happy with the representation he provided." Roger N., Oneida, NY