What to do when road hazards, such as potholes or road debris cause you to be in a car accident? Who’s liable? Let’s go over  little information on the topic to help to see where you stand.

Fault Will Hinge on ‘Negligence’

In almost all car accident claims stemming from crashes involving road hazards, figuring out who to blame — and who is responsible for damages — will depend on who was negligent. In order for an injured driver to prevail on a claim of negligence after an accident involving a road hazard like a pothole or debris, it must be shown that: 

In a car accident case involving road hazards, the negligent party could be a government agency (responsible for maintaining the road), or a private party (like a trucking company that is obligated to secure cargo in a reasonably safe manner). 

Claims Against the Government

If a car accident is caused by potholes or other sorts of debris left in the middle of a public road, it is possible that some government entity may have breached its duty to provide adequate road maintenance.  In such cases the government entity in question would likely be the state or municipal government with direct responsibility for road maintenance.  

Typically a “notice of claim” must be filed within a certain period of time after the accident.  The applicable period of time is defined by statute, but is typically sixty days.  If a notice of claim is not filed with the government agency within the prescribed period of time, the plaintiff may have waived any right to bring a lawsuit.

Claims Against a Private Party

When a car accident is caused by a road hazard created by a private party’s negligence (truck cargo falling onto a highway, for example) the facts must be examined to determine who might be liable.

Under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior. This rule of liability holds an employer liable for the harmful acts (torts) committed by employees who are acting within the normal course of employment. To sustain a claim against an employer based on respondeat superior, the plaintiff must show that the negligent tort was actually committed during the scope of employment, rather than during a purely personal activity on the part of the employee. 

Getting More Information and Assistance

Car accidents caused by potholes or road debris can present unique issues of liability, and strict rules of compliance when claims against the government are involved. Contact The Law Offices of Dussault & Zatir to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.