When Your Car Accident Is Caused by a Pothole
Potholes have been a major source of driver headaches over the years. For example, an Uber driver accidentally drove into a pothole after dropping a customer off at a Jacksonville apartment complex in November 2017. She says she didn’t realize it was a pothole because it was filled with water and looked like an ordinary puddle. But the incident caused $700 in damages. Who is responsible for covering the cost of that bill?
Who Is Liable for Damage Caused by Potholes?
Determining liability is fairly straightforward when two drivers get into an accident, especially in right-of-way and rear-end collisions. But who is at fault when the accident is caused by a pothole or other dangerous road condition?
Roads are usually maintained by a city, county or state, which means the government might be liable when negligent maintenance results in injuries or damages. For example, if city officials knew or should have known about an unfilled pothole the government can be found liable when that pothole causes damages.
Suing Government Actors
First thing’s first. Keep in mind that Florida requires all car owners to obtain automobile insurance. The minimum coverage is $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage liability. Because Florida is a no-fault state, your insurance provider will pay damages up to the limits of your policy.
If insurance doesn’t fully cover the damages, you can file a claim with the government entity responsible for maintaining the road.
The government is generally protected from legal action by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which prevents government actors from being sued without their consent. State law waives this liability in tort actions (i.e., personal injury claims against the government) but imposes a cap on available damages. The state of Florida and its municipalities can be held liable for up to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per tort claim.
If you’re filing a claim against the state, you must notify the Division of Risk Management, in writing, within three years of the accident. Then wait 180 days before filing a lawsuit. The division will use this time to investigate your claim and determine whether it’s responsible for your damages. Your claim could be favorably resolved within this time period, making litigation unnecessary. But if your claim is denied, or if the department fails to act within that 180-day timeframe, or if you don’t receive the amount of damages that you are entitled to, litigation might be your best option.
Different counties and municipalities might have different processes for filing a damages claim. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this process.
Contact Us Today
Contact a Jacksonville personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if your car is damaged in a pothole-related incident. We will examine the facts of your case and help recover the compensation that you deserve.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Miami, Fort Myers, Tampa, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.