A Twiggs County jury has ordered the state to pay more than $7 million to the family of a 2007 accident victim after ruling that a stretch of Interstate 16 was unsafe.
The jury last week returned a $9.7 million verdict against the state Department of Transportation and an Alabama man in the death of Charlie Moore.
They ordered the state to pay three-quarters of that and the driver, Eric Gale Miller of Tuscaloosa, to pay one quarter.
According to court records, Miller lost control of his car near mile marker 26 on I-16 east, hydroplaned, spun and struck the car Moore was riding him.
The lawsuit argued that the state was mostly responsible for the wreck because the highway was poorly designed and maintained and poorly marked.
The lawsuit also argued that Miller was driving too fast for conditions.
According to attorney Carl Reynolds, who represented Moore's family, the road was flatter than it should be, which caused water to collect on the highway.
Also, there were no signs warning drivers of possible hazardous conditions on I-16, the suit claimed.
The verdict came after a week-long trial.
According to a news release from Reynolds' firm, verdicts against the state DOT are rare in road maintenance cases, "but seeing cases like this all the way through a trial and verdict is the only way to make sure the State properly maintains the roads upon which we all travel so that we reach our destinations safely."
We could not reach state Department of Transportation officials for comment.