Seeking Damages for Negligently Designed Roads in Florida

Every day, a number of people across Florida are injured in automobile accidents. These accidents have a variety of causes. In most motor vehicle accident cases, the negligent party is one of the drivers. However, sometimes unsafely designed roads can be the root cause of an accident. In Villanueva v. Reynolds, Smith and Hills, Inc., the Fifth District assessed whether an engineering company, Reynolds, Smith and Hills (RS&H), could be liable for negligent road construction even though the county had signed a subsequent set of design plans by a successor engineer.

The case arose after a serious vehicular collision in 2007 that resulted in the death of one of the drivers. The accident took place at a rural intersection in Osceola County. In 1999, the County had hired RS&H to provide design services for a roadway expansion project.

The decedent’s personal representative filed a lawsuit against RS&H as well the county, alleging negligence when it came to the placement of the advance warning signs for the intersection. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the advance warning signs were improperly placed. RS&H moved for summary judgment, stating that the plans devised by its company were not used for construction of the advanced warning signs, that the county assumed full responsibility for the plan when it signed and sealed a subsequent set of plans, and that the county assumed all responsibility for obvious flaws in the plan by accepting the final project.

It was not clear how much work was completed before the new plans were submitted. Even the professional engineer who worked for the county testified that he was unsure of how much of the project had been finished before the county’s revised plans.

The trial granted RS&H’s motion for summary judgment, reasoning that there was no evidence to demonstrate that the advance warning signs were created based on RS&H’s plans. The court found evidence that the construction was based on the county’s revised plan. Additionally, the court noted that the county was accountable for the negligent design due to the signing and sealing of the county plans.

The Fifth District reversed the summary judgment in favor of RS&H. The court explained that a summary judgment may only be granted when there is no genuine issue of material fact. The evidentiary requirement for a summary judgment is deliberately difficult. Here, the Fifth District concluded that the lower court had received conflicting evidence. In the case at hand, the lack of certainty of how much work had been done before the second plan was submitted coupled with other insufficient evidence was not enough to eliminate any genuine issue of material fact. Thus, the case was reversed and remanded.

Negligence cases are highly fact intensive and can be hard to prove. This is precisely why having an experienced Miami auto accident attorney on your side is so important. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our team has helped numerous South Florida clients resolve their accident claims, and we can help you too. To find out about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).

More Blog Posts:

Negligence Claims against Pharmacies in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 27, 2015

Common Examples of Negligent Driving in Florida Car Accident Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 27, 2015

Understanding the Difference between Florida’s Intentional Torts and Negligence Laws, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 27, 2015

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