Can I Receive Compensation for a Car Accident Resulting From a Pothole?
March 29, 2022
A common question posed by Philadelphia motorists is whether or not damage and personal injury claims for pothole car accidents are legally warranted. Specifically, disgruntled car owners who are injured by potholes desperately want to know if the city or state can be held liable. The answer is most often “no,” albeit possible under special circumstances, so knowing the facts is critical.
Is the City or State Protected From Being Liable for Pothole Accidents?
The state of Pennsylvania is protected by a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity. Neither Philadelphia nor the state of Pennsylvania is entirely exempt from liability regarding pothole accidents, but special circumstances must exist.
For a legitimate claim to be made regarding property damage to a vehicle, the road on which the pothole is found must be a city street and not a state road. The city, however, will not be willing to pay an amount that exceeds the insurance deductible. Althoughsovereign immunity protects the state of Pennsylvania from having to compensate drivers for property damage, a claim, as it is with the city, can be brought against the state for personal injury.
Must Potholes Be Reported Prior to Causing Damage or Injury?
One special circumstance to hold the city or state responsible involves giving notice about a pothole before it causes an accident. This can be difficult because for there to be a legitimate claim, the pothole in question should have been reported prior to causing damage to the vehicle and/or person.
This prior notice is called actual notice, and it allows for a claim to be made because the city would be at fault for failing to have made the proper repairs. Bear in mind, however, that the state can only be held responsible for personal injury, not damage to a vehicle.
What if the Road is so Riddled With Potholes That a Car Accident Is Inevitable?
Constructive notice can be used in some cases, allowing the car owner to make a claim without prior notice. Constructive notice can be used in instances where a pothole or damaged road had been so bad that an accident was inevitable. The basic idea of it is that the city should have already taken the proper steps to fix the problem.
Although prior notice might carry with it a stronger argument, constructive notice can work successfully for situations in which car damage or injury could have been avoided if the city or state were paying attention to its visibly damaged roads.
What if the Passenger in a Pothole Accident Is Injured?
Drivers must be cognizant of dangers to the road in the same way that they must be on the lookout for vehicles that can cause a potential threat. This means that a driver should be aware of potholes and take careful steps to avoid them.
Although it would be difficult to hold the city or state responsible in such a case, a claim against the driver could be warranted due to the fact that the driver should have been driving in a careful and cautious manner.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Pursue Claims for Those Injured in Pothole Accidents
Making a personal injury claim is a tedious and complicated matter if you have been injured in a pothole accident. For competent legal help regarding pothole accidents, speak with our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Call us at 215-569-9100 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.