Who is Liable in an Accident Caused by a Pothole?
Potholes, which are depressions or cavities in roadways, are typically caused by wear. They usually occur in areas with heavy traffic and poor drainage, and where road maintenance doesn’t keep up with demand. During the 1950s to the 1970s, the U.S. invested in thousands of miles of highways that were expected to last 50 years, but longevity depends entirely on the quality of road maintenance.
Being involved in a car accident can be frustrating, especially if you do not know who is clearly to blame. The Pittsburgh car accident attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates offer free consultations if you were injured in a car accident and want to know if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
High-population areas have some of the worst road conditions. According to a study by TRIP, the worst areas include:
- San Francisco/Oakland, CA. 71% poor conditions.
- Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana, CA. 60% poor conditions.
- San Jose, CA. 59% poor conditions.
- Detroit, MI. 56% poor conditions.
- Milwaukee, WI. 56% poor conditions.
- Bridgeport/Stamford, CT. 55% poor conditions.
What Are The Dangers of Potholes?
Potholes or other poor road conditions play a part in 33% of traffic deaths per year. It doesn’t help that traffic will inevitably increase year after year.
Roadways in substandard or poor conditions increase the chance of car accidents, injury, and operating costs for drivers.
Potholes pose danger in terms of physical injury and financial damage:
- The average driver spends around $375 a year on car repairs due to poor road conditions.
- Poor road conditions will cost businesses in the U.S. around $240 billion by 2022.
- Pothole accidents can lead to personal injury lawsuits, which can be expensive for property owners.
Can I Sue the City for Pothole Accidents?
City, county, or state officials may be responsible for a car accident caused by a pothole because it is the government’s responsibility to maintain reasonably safe road conditions. To understand when they are responsible, however, a couple of aspects must be known:
- Was the government alerted about the pothole (or other poor road conditions) by a citizen before the accident?
- Did the government discover the pothole during a regular survey of roadways?
- Have the pothole or poor road conditions been around for long enough that the government should have known about it?
If officials knew about the poor road conditions, but did not have a reasonable amount of time to repair those conditions, it is likely that the government will not be held responsible for damages.
Can I Make an Insurance Claim for Pothole Damage?
If you are the victim of a car accident involving a pothole or poor road conditions:
- Identify the location of the poor road condition. Take photos and note nearby businesses or landmarks to its location.
- Take note of important aspects of the car accident, such as the street name and the direction the car was traveling during the incident.
- Record contact information of any witnesses.
The driver will then have to call the local county commissioner’s office to find out which government department is responsible for maintenance on the road where the car accident occurred.
There is a limited window of time during which a person can make a claim, so he or she needs to give that government body notice of the claim as soon as possible.
Providing Evidence for a Pothole Claim
A driver needs to prove the government knew about the poor road condition. The government may admit to knowing on its own, but if not, a person still has the following options:
- Request past survey records.
- Research the area and interview locals to prove the government should have known about the condition of the road.
Those who are involved in a car accident with poor road conditions should seek the help of a lawyer. Making a claim against any party presents significant difficulties. Government departments come with special conditions to fulfill when filing a claim.
The experts at Hal Waldman & Associates can assist Pittsburgh area drivers with a poor road condition claim. Call us at (412) 338-1000.