If you were hurt in an accident that was caused or worsened by a pothole in the road, you can sue the city for damages. The deadlines are often shorter for suing a municipality, and you may need to prove that the city knew about the pothole beforehand and didn’t fix it. You can also pursue other avenues for damages after a pothole accident. A Boca Raton car accident lawyer can help you consider these options.
Circumstances in Which You Can Sue a City for a Pothole
To sue the person or entity responsible, you need to connect their violation of duty of care to your injuries. For a pothole case, that means providing evidence that the poor road conditions caused or at least contributed to the accident that caused your injuries.
Examples of pothole negligence cases include:
- Pedestrians tripping and falling due to a pothole in sidewalks or roads.
- Single-vehicle accidents caused by hitting a pothole, like a blown tire or rollover.
- Accidents involving multiple vehicles where one vehicle hit a pothole.
- An accident caused by attempting to avoid a pothole.
Potholes can hurt anyone—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and motor vehicle drivers. The crux lies in whether the city knew or should have known about the problem and failed to address it.
The City Knew or Should Have Known About the Dangerous Conditions
These are the keywords in a premises liability case, which is what a pothole lawsuit is. Property owners are expected to take reasonable action to maintain their roads and walkways. If a hole in the road has existed for several months, getting bigger and bigger each day and prompting complaints, you can argue that the property owner didn’t take reasonable action.
These grounds can get tricky since the party responsible for the road could argue that they couldn’t have known about the problem in time to prevent your accident. For this reason, it’s important to line up evidence that shows the history of the pothole.
Proving a Pothole Caused Your Accident
A lot of premises liability cases can boil down to timing—when the pothole existed in relation to when you got hurt. That can get challenging since potholes aren’t exactly monitored 24 hours a day. However, our premises liability lawyers can reconstruct what occurred using several pieces of evidence like:
- Photos and videos of the pothole, including past documentation
- Traffic camera or other video footage of the accident
- Eyewitness statements about your accident
- Photographic evidence of your injuries
- Records of reports or complaints made about the pothole
- A timeline of events leading up to the accident
- Expert testimony on the mechanics or details of the accident
If you don’t know where to get reports of previous complaints, traffic camera footage, or other evidence, don’t worry. An attorney can obtain this information from the correct parties. In fact, part of our job is to find and secure evidence before it is lost, forgotten, or destroyed.
You Need to Know Who Was Responsible for the Road With the Pothole
The city where the pothole was located might seem like the most obvious candidate for a lawsuit. However, the responsibility for roads could vary depending on your location in an area. You might think you’re in one city but are actually on county land instead.
Some possibilities for liable parties in pothole cases:
- Another governmental entity
- Private property owners
For example, if you blew a tire on a pothole and lost control of your car on a road leading into a grocery store parking lot, that road could either belong to the city or to the grocery store.
Even within a city, you may need to determine which government agency or department was responsible for the road where you were hurt to file your claim or suit against the correct party. A personal injury attorney can help you determine the specifics of who to direct your claim against.
Suing a City Means Filing Within a Unique Statute of Limitations Time Limit
Having the grounds and evidence for a pothole case means nothing if you try to sue outside of the deadline. According to Florida Statutes § 768.28(6)(a)(1), you must present written notice of your case within six months of the injury.
This is different if you’re suing a private property owner for a pothole accident and injury. In that case, you generally have two years to file for personal injury. However, this deadline isn’t assured since some individual factors can affect how long you have, so double-check with our firm.
The Effect of Other Laws on a Pothole Case
Giving notice within six months isn’t the only unique part of suing a city for a pothole. By taking on a government entity, you could see your damages capped. That means you could only recover a maximum amount of money, either $200,000 or $300,000, depending on the circumstances of your case.
If the Pothole Was Just a Contributing Factor to Your Accident
If you’re worried that your bills and losses from the accident exceed the compensation cap for suing a city, you can explore claims or suits against other parties involved.
For example, if you were also hurt by faulty tires, auto parts, or other product defects, you can file a separate product liability claim or suit against the manufacturer. If someone hit you and drove you into the pothole, causing more damage, you could have a case against the driver as well.
There are so many possible accident scenarios, with details you might not know how to sort through to find a path to compensation. A lawyer from our team can help you untangle the circumstances in your specific case to potentially find other parties to hold liable. This can allow you to recover fair financial compensation.
Don’t Wait to Find Out If You Can Sue a City for a Pothole Accident
The deadline for giving notice of a suit against a municipality is short, so don’t wait to take action if you were hurt. The team at Ged Lawyers can use that time to determine who owned and maintained the property, verify the exact person or agency to sue, and preserve vital evidence that proves negligence.
You can contact our legal team today for a free case review. Cases against cities are often challenging due to the protections in place for government entities, but we aren’t intimidated. You shouldn’t be either. Reach out to us today to get started on your personal injury claim.