LIABILITY OF THE STATE FOR INJURIES CAUSED BY OBSTRUCTIONS OR DEFECTS IN HIGHWAY SHOULDER OR BERM

This paper examines the question of the nature of the duty of care owing in respect to maintenance of the nontraveled portion of the highway, or the nature of the obligation of the State, if any, to provide for safe vehicular movement along the shoulder or berm of the roadway. The courts uniformly and without exception take judicial notice of the fact that the berm or shoulder of the roadway is not designed and constructed for purposes of ordinary travel and hence require no proof in respect thereto. The precise question for consideration is whether a lesser degree or standard of care is required in respect to maintenance of the berm or shoulder of the highway than is required in respect to maintenance of the paved surface. The approach taken in this paper to the question under consideration is an examination of the results reached in representative cases dealing with the fact situations that are most commonly productive of injuries to motorists straying onto the berm from the paved surface. These fact situations include the following: (1) dangerous drop-offs between pavement and shoulder; (2) ruts, ditches, holes, or depressions in the shoulder; (3) loose, friable, or soft shoulder conditions; (4) rocks in shoulder; (5) culverts in shoulders; (6) posts, poles, or trees in shoulder; and (7) government road-working vehicles or equipment parked on shoulder. The paper concludes with a discussion of cases dealing with the effect of the plea of contributory negligence as a bar to recovery notwithstanding proved negligence on the part of the State.

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  • Accession Number: 00488274
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0-309-02434-X
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Addendum 4
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Sep 30 1989 12:00AM