Municipalities Held Liable For Obstructions
This past February the Washington State Supreme Court held that municipalities can now be held liable for sight-obstructing roadside vegetation that causes accidents. It is a long established aspect of Washington law that municipalities owe a duty to keep roads and sidewalks free from hazards and fit for ordinary use by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Keller v. City of Spokane, 17 P.3d 661 (Wash. Ct. App. 2001). Now, this duty requires municipalities to address roadside vegetation that creates hazards.
“A municipality’s duty to maintain its roadways in a reasonably safe condition for ordinary travel is not confined to the asphalt. If a wall of roadside vegetation makes the roadway unsafe by blocking a driver’s view of oncoming traffic at an intersection, the municipality has a duty to take reasonable steps to address it.”