The roads are in rough shape this year. It is pothole season, meaning car accidents may be more frequent.
Pennsylvania just experienced record cold. While warmer weather has arrived, winter left damage on roads across the state. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has spent over $1.2 million this winter repairing potholes. Many more repairs remain.
Potholes are more numerous this year because of the several freezes and thaws experienced in the state over the winter. Potholes form when moisture seeps into cracks in the road, then freezes at night. As the ice warms, it pushes up on the asphalt. If this is repeated several times, the result is a pothole.
Pennsylvania has used 22,000 tons of asphalt to repair roads in the state so far this year; more than the state DOT used for the entirety of last year.
Potholes are not just an inconvenience. While any vehicle that bumps into a pothole at even mild speed is likely to experience front-end damage or an alignment shift, potholes can also affect the rate at which vehicles get into accidents. Sudden stops and swerving can increase the likelihood of a crash, especially if a driver is unwary. Defective tires or other auto parts can cause serious injury because of contact with a pothole.
For drivers and passengers injured because of a pothole, there are legal options. However, the law on when and if an individual can sue a city for failing to repair a pothole is very specific. It is difficult, although not impossible, to recover money damages after suffering an injury because of an accident involving a pothole.
If the accident occurred on a state-run highway or road, you cannot get property damage for your vehicle. However, if you were seriously injured because of a pothole, you can recover for injuries if PennDOT had notice of the pothole and had reasonable time to fix it. For local cities, the same is true regarding injury: the city must have had knowledge of the pothole (or should have known of the pothole) and had time to repair it. You may also be able to get some property damage, although the amount is not likely to be much more than your insurance deductible.
While getting compensated from state and local governments for failing to repair a pothole is difficult, there are circumstances under which you might be able to file a successful lawsuit against other parties. For example, drivers must keep a safe distance behind you in order to be able to stop in case an unexpected road condition – like a pothole – causes you to stop or slow down. If a vehicle rear-ends you, the driver is liable for any injury you may have sustained.
There are many reasons why vehicles crash, from inattentive drivers to bad road conditions. Roads in ill repair make crashes more likely. Every accident is unique, and getting monetary help with recovery from injuries depends on your individual circumstances. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., our attorneys are experienced helping injured motorists recover after experiencing a serious accident. Contact our office to discuss your situation and legal options.