When Potholes Damage a Vehicle: Who Is Liable?
Potholes on the roads we drive are much more than a minor inconvenience. These imperfections can cause extensive damage or even endanger drivers and passengers. Punctured tires, bent or misaligned wheels, and beat-up suspension… the impact potholes have on our prized automobiles is large. But who is responsible?
Those who experience damage caused by potholes may be able to submit a claim with their local, city, county, or state government. It is possible, assuming you can prove the government is responsible, was at fault, or was negligent at some level.
How does the claims process work? Let’s take a closer look.
To successfully file a claim, you’ll need to prove the responsible authority is to blame. Here you must show the government assumed some level of neglect as they strive to meet safe road standards. Large chunks missing from the asphalt are quite obvious; some flaws, however, can be more subtle and make for unsafe conditions. Narrow streets, debris from construction sites, or the lack of a shoulder all contribute to less-than-ideal driving conditions. Is the local government to blame?
We can all agree, some potholes are unmissable; large holes in the middle of a busy street, for example, are usually easily spotted and fixed in a matter of days. Unfortunately, in some cases, the damage is ignored for months on end. If a pothole is ignored for an extended period and damages multiple vehicles then this is a clear example of government negligence. When a road is just formed, however, the authorities are probably unaware of needed improvements. If you are unlucky enough to encounter one of these new potholes then you’ll probably lose your case.
To prove negligence, you must show the government was aware of or should have been aware of, the issue. The truth is, roadworks teams can’t constantly monitor every stretch of road in the state let alone make repairs at the drop of a hat. Therefore, a certain level of common sense must apply as you make your argument in coordination with the circumstances under which damage occurred. If the road was in poor condition for some time and signs were in place to warn of the condition then the claim could be dismissed.
A lack of maintenance ultimately leads to the deterioration of roads and increases the chance of accidents. Any injuries or damages associated with unsafe conditions may be attributed to the city or state government. When you find yourself in such a position, be sure to reach out for roadside assistance or breakdown assistance.