Accidents caused by potholes are extremely frustrating. Often times, the pothole can't be avoided, either because avoiding it would cause the driver to veer into another vehicle or object, or because it was not scene in time. Every jurisdiction is a little different, but generally, a municipality has to be on notice of the hazard before there is liability. However, much like a spill in a grocery store, if the pothole has existed for more than a few days, the jurisdiction is generally believed to be on notice of the hazard, and thus has a duty to warn motorists, or repair the dangerous condition. In addition to property damage, motorists and their passengers can be injured in pot-hole accidents, and if they are, they should contact a pothole injury lawyer, like Roger Gelb, at once. Invariably, the jurisdiction must be put on formal notice of the claim, and this notice is always shorter than the statute of limitations.
An illustration, by way of reviewing an actual case handled by attorney Roger Gelb, is often helpful. In 2014, a client of Mr. Gelb's slowed on north-bound Canal Road, in Glen Echo, Maryland, just outside the Washington, D.C. line, in order to avoid running into a large pothole in the middle of the road. You can likely anticipate what happened; the client was rear-ended while slowing down. Obviously, the strike vehicle is liable. But what about the municipality that is responsible for maintaining the roadway? According to the client, he was aware of the pothole because the client traveled north-bound Canal Road every evening on his way home work, and the hazard had been there for weeks. Shouldn't the claimant pursue the claim against the governmental entity responsible for the road? In short, the answer is no. In the first place, there is a causation issue regarding the the condition of the road; that is, the condition of the road did not cause the accident, but rather the negligence of the the striking vehicle was the cause. Additionally, even if both the government and the adverse private insurer were on the hook, the client's claim has only one value, which can be collected from the private insurance for the striking vehicle.