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Who is liable for accidents caused by potholes?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Auto, Truck, and Motorcycle Accidents

Winter in New York State often brings with it the beauty of snow-covered landscapes, but it also ushers in a less appealing consequence: potholes and other road damage. These nuisances can lead to accidents, posing risks to motorists and pedestrians alike.

When accidents occur due to poor road maintenance, who bears the responsibility?

Understanding liability

To understand who might be liable for injuries resulting from roadway damage, you first need to delve into the concept of negligence. In legal terms, negligence refers to the failure of an individual or entity to exercise reasonable care under the given circumstances. In the context of road maintenance during winter weather, several parties might be negligent.

In the Empire State, the responsibility for maintaining roads typically lies with government agencies. These entities must monitor road conditions, repair damages promptly and take steps to prevent accidents caused by road hazards, such as potholes.

Sometimes, government agencies hire contractors to perform road maintenance tasks. If these contractors fail to fulfill their duties, they may be liable for negligence.

Drivers also play a role in accident prevention. They should exercise caution, adapt their driving to road conditions and report hazardous road conditions to authorities when encountered.

Proving negligence

To establish negligence in a personal injury case related to winter weather road damage in New York, the following elements need to be true:

  1. Duty of care. The responsible party owed a duty of care to the injured party. In this context, the government agency or contractor has a duty to maintain safe road conditions.
  2. Breach of duty. You must show that the responsible party breached this duty by failing to address or prevent the road hazard, such as potholes.
  3. There must be a direct link between the breach of duty and the injuries sustained. In other words, you need to establish that the negligence directly led to the accident and subsequent injuries.
  4. Lastly, you must prove that the injured party suffered actual damages, such as medical expenses or property damage, as a result of the accident.

You need to have proof supporting your claim. In some cases, more than one party shares responsibility.

Seeking compensation

Knowing who caused a car accident helps injured people seek the compensation they deserve, either from insurance companies or by taking legal action. When accidents happen due to poor road conditions caused by government agencies, individuals can file claims to seek compensation for their injuries and damages.

Claims against government entities are more complex than most. They have stricter procedures and shorter deadlines, and you may need assistance.

Hold at-fault parties accountable

Holding government agencies accountable for not maintaining roads can make roads safer and prevent future accidents and injuries.