Is Philly liable for Roosevelt Boulevard accidents?

Roosevelt Boulevard Accidents

Roosevelt Boulevard accidents continue to be a Philadelphia problem with injury and death an all too common story.    Philadelphia personal injury lawyers know it as one of the most dangerous roads in Pennsylvania. In 2015 a new pedestrian bridge was constructed following the tragic death of a mother and three of her children.  The goal was to make a dangerous stretch of the road safer for pedestrians. However, crashes on the Boulevard continue, according to PennDOT.  In 2018 alone, 21 people died in accidents.

Roosevelt Boulevard Danger No Secret

The City of Philadelphia has been aware of the problems with the design of Roosevelt Boulevard for many years. In 2007 they commissioned a road study of Roosevelt Boulevard by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.  Some progress has been made, but Roosevelt Boulevard continues to be a deadly stretch of poorly designed road for today’s volume of traffic. Although the government has sovereign immunity in certain circumstances, there are exceptions. The City of Philadelphia is taking steps to further address the problem.

Speed Camera Pilot Program

As a part of Philadelphia’s Vision Zero program, Philadelphia City Council recently approved speed cameras for Roosevelt Boulevard. Drivers speeding more than 11 miles per hour over the speed limit will receive a speeding ticket. This is a step in the right direction, but will it solve the problem? Time will tell.

When the Government is Liable

If an investigation shows that an accident was caused by a defective design or maintenance of the highway, attorneys may assert claims against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and/or the local agency like the City of Philadelphia. If the accident occurred on a state highway, there is a potential $250,000 in additional coverage that could be available.  If the accident occurred on a local street, there could be up to $500,000 in additional coverage.

Sovereign and Governmental Immunity

There are two statutes that address sovereign and governmental immunity.  Both statutes create immunity for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the governmental agencies such as the City of Philadelphia but also provide exceptions to the absolute bar.  One of those exceptions is liability for real estate, highways and sidewalks.  It is well known that Roosevelt Blvd. in Philadelphia is the city’s most dangerous street.  It is twelve (12) lanes wide and it is basically an at grade highway through Northeast Philadelphia.

The Evolution of Roosevelt Boulevard

The evolution of Roosevelt Boulevard began in the early 1900’s, when Roosevelt Boulevard was planned as a country road to connect Northeast Philadelphia with the rest of the city.  The boulevard began to get busy in the 1930’s and ‘40’s.  Then in the 50’s, Roosevelt Boulevard became connected to the Schuylkill Expressway which fed Roosevelt Boulevard even more cars. To accommodate the additional traffic, the City of Philadelphia continued to add more lanes. Today, Roosevelt Boulevard is not safe for anyone. It is very dangerous whether you are in a car, on a bike, or a walking pedestrian.

Bad Design or Bad Evolution?

The core of the problem with Roosevelt Boulevard is in the road design, which was not so much a design as it has been an evolution. Today, Roosevelt Boulevard is a 12-lane highway through a residential neighborhood with many lane changes, exits and entrances. Then at night, when traffic ends, it becomes a deadly drag racing stretch. Although many changes have been made over the years, it continues to become more dangerous with every passing year.

Roosevelt Boulevard Accidents Involving Bicycles and Pedestrians

Pedestrians and bicyclists on Roosevelt Boulevard are forced to cross twelve (12) lanes of travel to get from one side of the boulevard to the other.  The highway has no shoulders to pull over and the general speed of vehicles traveling on the boulevard is higher than the posted speed limits. Claims against the government for accidents involving bicycles and pedestrians on Roosevelt Boulevard may be the most likely successful claims.

Successfully Asserting A Negligent Claim

The city, county, or state of Pennsylvania can be held responsible for accidents caused by poor road design or maintenance. However, to successfully file a claim, the plaintiff must prove that the government was aware of the poor road condition and failed to make repairs in a reasonable amount of time. Since most Pennsylvania roads are maintained by the government, a defective road claim will be brought against the government.  Although government agencies have sovereign immunity against lawsuits, a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision ruled that exemptions apply to Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Immunity Act in certain circumstances.

Whether an attorney can successfully assert a negligent design of the highway claim against the state or government will be factually driven depending on the facts of the accident and where it occurred.  The commonwealth and the city are always represented with counsel who have a very astute understanding of the sovereign immunity laws.  In addition, the state and the city vigorously defend these types of claims.  Nonetheless, a claim against the city or the state should always be considered in a case where the available insurance coverage is insufficient to adequately compensate the victim.

Examples of Roadway Defects

  • Unsafe ramps.
  • Missing or incorrect signs.
  • Lack of warning signs in a construction area.
  • Unprotected dangerous roadside hazards.
  • Uneven pavement.
  • Potholes.
  • Defective guardrails.
  • Poor intersection design.
  • Shoulder erosion or drop-off.
  • Dangerous lane design.
  • Poor drainage.

If you have been injured on Roosevelt Boulevard, contact Fox Law for a free consultation.

Roosevelt Boulevard continues to claim a shocking number of victims every year. Does the City of Philadelphia have the responsibility to do more to make this road safer? If you have been injured on Roosevelt Boulevard and feel you have a claim against a driver or the city, contact Fox Law today for a free consultation.