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Pavement Markings: What Role Do They Play in Auto Accidents?


Most of us take pavement markings for granted. We know that a double-yellow means to stay in our lane, we know that a dotted line means it is legal to pass, and we know that a crosswalk means we need to slow down and watch out for pedestrians. We see them, and we obey them in the course of our everyday lives.

But, not all drivers know what the typical pavement markings mean, and even among those that do, not all of them follow the law. Additionally, while most government authorities are good at determining where pavement markings are needed, some are better than others. Some are better at maintaining their roads as well, and as pavement markings fade over time, this too can add to the dangers of being on the road.

3 Ways Pavement Markings Can Be Important To an Auto Accident Case

Given these issues, auto accidents involving issues related to pavement markings are relatively common. If you have been seriously injured in an accident, understanding what role the pavement markings (or lack thereof) may have played in the accident will be important for assessing your legal rights. Depending on the circumstances involved, another driver’s failure to follow pavement markings could give you an insurance claim; or, if the pavement markings themselves were the problem, then you could have a claim against the government.

So, what do you need to know about pavement markings as an auto accident victim in Florida? Here are three ways pavement markings can be important to an auto accident case:

1. Pavement Markings Establish the Rules of the Road

Pavement markings exist for a reason. They establish the rules of the road, and drivers have a legal obligation to follow them. For example, regarding no-passing zones, Section 316.0875 of the Florida Statutes states: “Where . . . markings are in place to define a no-passing zone . . . a driver may not, at any time, drive on the left side of the roadway within such no-passing zone or on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark such no-passing zone throughout its length.”

From telling drivers when to stop to telling them when it is safe to pass, pavement markings serve several vital purposes. They are there to help keep drivers safe, protect pedestrians and cyclists, and avoid confusion on the roads—all while keeping traffic flowing as efficiently as possible.

2. Drivers Who Ignore Pavement Markings Can Be Held Liable for Negligence

Since drivers have a legal obligation to follow pavement markings, drivers who ignore them can be held liable for negligence. When a driver breaks a law that is intended to protect public safety, this is known as “negligence per se.” This means that breaking the law is itself evidence of negligence.

In auto accident cases, negligence is the key to establishing liability. If you have an auto insurance claim outside of personal injury protection (PIP) because you suffered a significant or permanent injury in a crash, you need to be able to prove negligence to recover just compensation. This is true whether you are seeking coverage from the at-fault driver’s insurer or under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy. In cases involving pavement marking violations, proving negligence may involve showing that the at-fault driver:

  • Crossed a double-yellow line
  • Passed on a dotted yellow line when it was unsafe to do so
  • Drifted out of his or her lane in traffic
  • Failed to come to a complete stop at an intersection
  • Failed to yield the right of way at a crosswalk
  • Drove into a bicycle lane

These are just examples. There are many different types of pavement markings at intersections, on city streets, on highways and byways, and in parking lots and garages. Any time you are injured in an auto accident with a driver who violated a pavement marking, you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights.

3. Government Authorities (and Contractors) Can Be Held Liable for Inadequate, Confusing or Unmaintained Pavement Markings

To manage traffic and protect public safety, government authorities in Florida have a duty to ensure that all public roads are marked with appropriate lane lines, stop bars, crosswalks and other pavement markings. If a government authority (or government contractor) fails to do what is necessary, this can lead to costly accidents on the road.

When it comes to preventing auto accidents, it only takes one mistake to have serious consequences. Some examples of issues that have the potential to cause accidents include:

  • Failing to paint lane lines, stop bars, crosswalks or other pavement markings where needed.
  • Painting pavement markings that are confusing.
  • Painting pavement markings that do not clearly establish where drivers should go or who has the right of way.
  • Failing to re-paint pavement markings that have faded or become obscured by tire rubber.
  • Failing to paint new pavement markings after adding lanes, modifying intersections or doing other road construction projects.

The same basic principles apply to auto accidents on private roads and private property. For example, if you were involved in an accident in a parking lot or a private neighborhood that could have been prevented with proper pavement markings, you could have a claim against the business owner or community association. Business owners, property owners and property managers can be held liable for negligence as well; and, when dealing with the financial and non-financial costs of accident-related injuries, it is important to pursue all available sources of recovery.

Speak with a Florida Auto Accident Attorney at Searcy Denney for Free

Regardless of the circumstances involved, if you have been seriously injured in an auto accident, you owe it to yourself to hold the at-fault party accountable. At Searcy Denney, we have decades of experience fighting for just compensation on behalf of auto accident victims in Florida. If you were injured in an accident and you suspect that an issue related to pavement markings is to blame, we encourage you to speak to a Florida auto accident attorney today. Call 800-780-8607 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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