The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled, albeit not unanimously, that the state cannot be held liable for injuries suffered in accidents related to road construction, maintenance, or design. This ruling came after a separate ruling in favor of Diana Glazer, whose husband and daughter were killed on I-10 in 2007 when a motorist crossed the median and struck the Glazers’ van. Glazer was awarded $7.8 million in her suit against the state.
Despite Glazer’s victory, the Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot be held liable for design-related injuries if the design conforms to standards at the time of construction and sufficient warning is given, as stated in a 1984 law. In Glazer’s case, there was no warning posted.
While the majority agreed, one justice spoke out against the possible issues with this ruling. Chief Justice Scott Bales expressed concern that this ruling took away the state’s responsibility to maintain and upgrade roads as needed in lieu of simply warning that the road had become dangerous.
His other primary concern focused on the law used as the foundation for the ruling, especially considering that the highway where the Glazers’ accident occurred was as it had been constructed in 1967, which made it acceptable, in the eye of the law. The trouble with this legal angle, claims Bales, is that traffic conditions are nowhere near what they were in 1967. Traffic has more than tripled since then, and the speed limit has been raised to 75 miles per hour on some sections of I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix.
The Phoenix auto accident attorneys of Curry, Pearson & Wooten remain focused on protecting the rights of Arizona accident victims, and will closely follow developments related to this new ruling.