Who Can You Sue if a Pothole Causes Your Car Accident?
If you’re like most drivers in St. Louis, you may have had an accident caused by a pothole. When these accidents occur, resulting in damage to your vehicle or personal injuries, it can be challenging to know who is liable.
Working with a St. Louis car accident attorney can help you understand who you can sue for a pothole that resulted in a car accident.
What Should You Do if a Pothole Causes Your Car Accident?
If you’re in a car accident caused by a pothole, the first thing you should do is call the police. You’ll also need to document the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. If you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately.
Once you’ve taken care of the immediate aftermath of the accident, you’ll need to start thinking about your legal options. If you decide to file a lawsuit, you’ll have to establish that the pothole was the direct cause of your accident. This can be tricky to do, especially if there were other factors involved in the crash.
If you can prove the pothole was responsible for your accident, you may be able to recover damages from the city where the pothole was located.
Potential Outcomes in Cases Where a Pothole Causes Your Car Accident
There are a few potential outcomes in cases where a crash is caused, at least partly, by a pothole. The most likely result is that the parties involved will share liability for the accident. Each party will be held responsible for their percentage of negligence in the accident.
It’s the municipality’s responsibility to maintain public roads, meaning the state government could be held liable for pothole accidents that occur on roads under their jurisdiction. If your accident occurred on a private road, talk to a car accident lawyer about whether you have grounds to file a claim against the property owner.
Even if you are partially at fault, you can still recover some of the damages under Missouri’s comparative negligence laws.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that assigns blame for an accident in part to each of the parties involved. This doctrine is important in pothole-related car accidents because it may limit a driver’s amount of damages. The driver must show that the pothole was a substantial factor in the accident to prove comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence laws allow plaintiffs to recover damages if they were not more than 50% at fault for the accident. So, if you were partially responsible for the accident, you may still be able to sue the party who should’ve repaired the pothole.
What if the Government is Responsible?
If the government is responsible for a pothole on the road and the pothole caused your car accident, you still might be able to bring a lawsuit against them for damages. Under comparative negligence laws, even if the government was only partially responsible for the pothole, you may still be able to receive damages from them.
MoDOT may cover your vehicle damage
In Missouri, MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) will pay for damages to your car under certain circumstances. If the following criteria are met, and the pothole still damages your vehicle, you may be able to have MoDOT pay for vehicle damage.
- The pothole was on a state road
- MoDOT was aware the pothole existed
- MoDOT was given a reasonable amount of time to fix it
Typically, pothole repairs can be made the same day they are reported. In 2018, there were 273 claims filed with MoDOT for vehicle compensation due to pothole damage.
Damages for Personal Injuries
If you sustain injuries in addition to your vehicle damage, filing a lawsuit is the best option for recovering compensation. In Missouri, you can recover economic, non-economic, and sometimes punitive damages.
Economic damages are those with quantifiable monetary value, such as your lost wages or medical bills directly resulting from the injury. Non-economic damages are more challenging to prove because they are not measurable. This can include compensation for your pain and suffering or loss of quality of life.
In some cases, you may be able to sue for punitive damages in Missouri if you can prove the negligent party acted maliciously or with conscious disregard. These damages are designed to punish the liable party, and 50% of any punitive award goes to the state.
Seek Legal Counsel
If you’ve been in a car accident caused by a pothole, you may be wondering who to sue. There are a few potential outcomes for these cases. To determine if you qualify for damages under comparative negligence laws, speak with a St. Louis car accident lawyer at Cofman Townsley.
We can help you determine who was at fault for the accident and work to get the maximum payout for your claim. Contact us today for a free case consultation.