Have you driven into a pothole lately? It is so annoying, and it can really do some damage to your tires and your car’s alignment. But who is responsible for the damage done to your automobile? After all, it isn’t like a fender-bender where fault is often easy to determine.
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.
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.
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.
If your car is damaged on bad roads – notify the city/state, and keep good records of your phone conversations associated with this report. You may also want to keep a detailed diary with dates and times of your damage and the reports you made to the city/state.
If you have been damaged by 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.