Who Is Responsible for a Pothole Accident?

Swerving to avoid a huge pothole in the road, another driver sideswipes your car. Your driver’s side door is smashed in while your head whips forward and hits the steering wheel in the process.  Somewhat dazed, you get out of the car to exchange insurance information with the other motorist, but you are a little wobbly and the police officer who arrives on scene insists that you seek medical attention calls an ambulance.  At the emergency room, you are diagnosed with a concussion and kept overnight for observation. This scenario brings up an interesting question that can determine the outcome of your personal injury lawsuit.  Who is responsible in a pothole accident, that is, in which a pothole caused a driver to swerve and hit you?

A jury very well may find that the driver was taking reasonable measures to avoid the greater catastrophe that could have occurred if the driver proceeded to drive straight through the pothole.  In such a scenario, you as the injured party would not be entitled to compensation if the jury found the other driver was acting reasonably or if the jury reduced the amount by the proportion it found that driver was responsible for the accident.

On the other hand, there is also the government entity that was responsible for maintaining the road that may also be to blame for the formation of the pothole in the first place.  Potholes do not just form overnight and every road in Florida has a government entity that is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of that road.  Potholes occur in Florida for a variety of reasons and government entities need to stay on top of their roads to ensure that potholes do not occur and cause or contribute to these types of accidents.

Potholes: A Problem Even in a Sunny Place Like Florida

 Although people most often associate potholes with the roads in northern states that receive huge amounts of snow and ice that freezes, thaws and freezes again, causing giant potholes to form in the roads, Florida’s roads also have their fair share of potholes.  In Florida’s case, potholes tend to be caused by the heavy traffic that occurs on many Florida roads.  This stresses the road, which in turn causes potholes to form.  The excess amounts of rain that fall in the Sunshine State only exacerbates the problem, as excess water that falls in Florida’s torrential rainstorms can get into the cracks in a road and cause potholes to become even worse.   Potholes can not only become a problem if left ignored or unfixed, but tend to become worse and more dangerous with time.  Without being repaired, potholes can expand and become an even bigger hazard.

What Does Florida Law Have to Say About A Pothole Accident?

Florida law requires every motorist to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety as well as the safety any other motorists around the motorist.  The standard is judged by what a reasonable person would do under the same or similar circumstances.  Pothole cases can be tricky, because the driver that caused the accident in a scenario like that described above is likely to argue that he or she was acting reasonably in swerving to avoid the pothole.  If the jury accepts this argument and does not find that motorist liable, or even lowers the percentage of fault it attributes to that motorist, then you as the victim may not recover the full amount of your injuries and damages as a result of the accident.

Other Options if You Are the Victim of a Pothole Accident

Another target that creative Florida personal injury attorneys can go after in a pothole injury claim is to pursue the city or municipality that has the obligation to ensure that its roads are safe.  This is an often overlooked option in this type of personal claim injury claim.

Government agencies, which could be the county, a city or even the state, are responsible for ensuring the roads they are responsible for are in safe operating condition.  That means the government entity responsible for the upkeep of that road must perform clean-ups, inspections and regular maintenance of the roads under its jurisdiction.  Where an agency knows about flaws in the roads like a pothole, it owes a duty of care to warn motorists about the danger and to take reasonable steps to not only warn them of the issue but to prevent this from becoming an issue by fixing the pothole in the first place.  Therefore, if the accident in which you were injured was caused by a government agency’s negligence as well as that of another driver, then an aggressive attorney will do whatever is necessary to ensure that you receive your full compensation for any injuries or damages you may have suffered. He or she will pursue both the driver that caused the accident as well as whatever government entity should have been maintaining the road and failed to do so.

Contact Schwed, Adams, & McGinley

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of experience representing the victims of motor vehicle accidents and other personal injury scenarios in Florida. During that time, we have represented numerous individuals injured in a motor vehicle accident that took place due to a pothole. We are not afraid to go after both the motorist that caused the accident in which our client was injured as well as the government entity that should have been maintaining that road.  Regardless of the scenario, if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Florida, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.