Whether you live in a city where cold, cold weather causes road damage, or a city where constant growth tears up the roads – driving through a pothole is annoying and can be very damaging to your automobile.

The question is – who is responsible for pothole damage should you blow-out a tire or damage a fender when landing in one? 

Generally, it is a city’s responsibility  to maintain the roadways and sidewalks, and a state’s responsibility to maintain interstate roadways. The state’s department of transportation is responsible for the upkeep on state highways. These departments, in theory, will pay for your property damage.

Much like in a slip and fall case, the city, or any property owner must be proven to have been negligent in the upkeep of the roadway or property in question. They must first have notice of the defect, and then fail to fix or warn those who may be injured by the defect.

Negligence-based liability also allows for a reduced amount of financial recovery if the injured party was also at fault. However, what often happens is that the city or state does not pay a claim because it says it did not know about the damage, and that the fault lies with the driver for not avoiding the pothole.

Filing a claim against the government is different from filing a lawsuit against an individual. There are statutory procedures that must be followed before you are allowed to bring court action, including first filing a claim for reimbursement.

State governments enjoy immunity from lawsuits in many cases. In Alabama, the state’s Board of Adjustment provides a venue for individuals or businesses to seek payment for damages for personal injury or property damage that was caused by the state, its agencies commissions, institutions or departments.

If you have experienced damage due to ill-kept city streets or state highways, contact an attorney who specializes in these cases. They can be very complicated, but you do have legal recourse.

If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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