Most of us know what to do after a car accident: make sure everyone is OK, exchange insurance info, etc. But what if your car isn't damaged by another car, but by the road itself? If your car is damaged by a road condition or during road repair or construction, can you sue the construction company or the municipality responsible for the road's maintenance?
From winter potholes to widening interstate highways, let's take a look at who might be responsible for damage caused by poor road conditions.
Suing City Hall
Contrary to the popular adage, you can sue city hall. Road maintenance generally falls to the city, county, or state to maintain. As a result, the government may be responsible for any damages caused by roads that aren't kept reasonably safe. While it may be difficult to distinguish which government entity is responsible for the road, that entity should be your first stop in determining responsibility for damage caused by poorly maintained roads.
That said, injury claims against the government aren't the same as your normal fender bender. While state and federal tort claims acts may provide for lawsuits against government entities, you must first file a "notice of claim" with the entity and your claim may be subject to different statutes of limitation. So you'll want to act quickly if your car is damaged due to road condition.
Claims Against Construction Crews
It's possible that your vehicle was damaged not by government negligence, but by the government's attempt to fix or maintain the roads. Construction companies have a general duty to keep a construction zone safe. If the company is negligent in maintaining a safe construction zone and that negligence leads to vehicle damage or an injury, the company could be liable for damages.
As with a normal car accident, you should attempt to document the vehicle damage as best as possible. Be sure to report the damage to your insurance carrier as soon as possible. Your automobile insurance policy may cover the cost of repairs.
If you're having trouble filing a claim against the government or collecting from your insurance company, an experienced car accident attorney may be able to help.