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How Dangerous Can Potholes Be?

Posted on: May 31, 2022

Potholes can be extremely dangerous to drivers and pedestrians on the road. Not only can potholes cause serious damage to your car, but you could also face serious injuries. When another driver tries to avoid a pothole, they could swerve into your car, causing an accident and possible injuries.

Pothole Dangers

Potholes are a symptom of poor road conditions. They can be small and shallow, they can be large and deep, or any size in between. What makes potholes so dangerous is that there are numerous ways that hitting one could cause you to get into an accident and suffer injuries.

The most common pothole-related accident is caused by hitting a large pothole while driving. When this happens, your car’s wheel can become lodged in the pothole, causing the vehicle to bounce, swerve, get stuck, or even flip over. This can cause serious damage to your vehicle, as well as injuries to you and your passengers.

If you are driving and notice a pothole at the last second, you may take evasive action to try and avoid driving over or into the pothole. This could cause you to lose control of your car and slam into another vehicle. You could also find yourself in an accident when another driver encounters a pothole and tries to avoid it, slamming into you.

Typical Damage and Injuries From a Pothole

Potholes come in all shapes and sizes. Any pothole presents dangers to drivers and their passengers, but large potholes can cause catastrophic damage and injuries. Even small potholes can result in severe vehicle damage. Some of the most common damage seen when hitting a pothole includes:

  • Brake damage
  • Broken axle
  • Bumper damage
  • Flat tire
  • Steering and mechanical issues
  • Undercarriage damage

These are just the most common problems from hitting a pothole and do not include any damage from hitting other vehicles or flipping over, both of which are possible outcomes, depending on the size of the pothole. More importantly, potholes can also cause injuries to you and your passengers, including but not limited to:

  • Broken bones
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Whiplash

Depending on the size and depth of the pothole, your injuries could be severe and long-lasting. While it does not seem like a pothole could wreak havoc on your body, they absolutely can. But getting compensation for your injuries and your car repairs can be more complicated.

Filing a Claim

The problem is that roads are maintained by government agencies and filing a claim against a government agency is different from suing another individual after a car accident. When you file your claim, you will need to present evidence showing that the government failed to safely maintain the road. You will also need to prove the government was aware of the pothole or had enough time to discover and repair the dangerous road condition.

For example, if you drove by a pothole this morning and reported it to the government agency in charge of maintaining the road, if you hit the pothole tomorrow morning, that is probably not enough time for the government to address the danger. However, if you hit the pothole next week and got injured or had damage to your car, you stand a better chance of being able to recover compensation.

When filing a claim with the government, you will need to provide specific information about your accident:

  • The exact time and location of the accident
  • The specific location of the pothole
  • Your full name and names of any passengers
  • Names of any other people involved in the crash
  • Names and contact information for any witnesses

While not usually required, pictures and video can give a serious boost to your claim. These images can record the size, depth, and location of the pothole, making it easier to make your case.

You will also need to figure out which government agency is in charge of the road with the pothole. Some roads in our area are run by the state, while others are maintained by the city. You need to know who is responsible for maintaining the road so that you file a claim with the correct government agency. Filing a claim with the wrong agency can waste your time and money.

Your accident may also require an investigation. To fully determine exactly what caused the pothole to form, accident reconstruction experts may be needed to investigate and determine whether poor maintenance by a government agency caused the pothole, construction work, or some other means. Knowing what caused the pothole to form can help lead you in the right direction on who is to blame.

Suing the government is not as simple as suing another person, however, and there are some actions that you cannot sue the government for, even if you were injured. Failure to properly maintain a road, thankfully, is not one of those, so you can probably file a claim with a government agency seeking compensation.

Do not expect the government to simply cut you a check. Do not expect to receive compensation quickly. In fact, the government may only agree to pay you a portion of the compensation you are requesting. In other cases, the government may simply reject your claim outright or offer you far less money than what it will take to repair your vehicle and cover your medical expenses.

Other Legal Options

Even if a pothole was the cause of your accident, you may have legal options other than suing a government agency. This is worth exploring since you are likely to receive more compensation from an at-fault party that is not the government.

If there was road construction happening where you hit a pothole, it is possible the construction company may hold blame for your crash. Construction work often creates road hazards, and sometimes, that comes in the form of potholes. If a construction company caused a pothole to form and you suffered injuries because of it, you may be able to seek compensation from the construction company.

In other cases, someone else hits a pothole or swerves to avoid hitting a pothole and impacts your vehicle. You may have a claim against this driver for your injuries and car damage.

In both cases, you have additional legal options for compensation. Your lawyer may try to get you compensation for:

  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Lost earning potential
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs

While it may seem like a pothole is not capable of causing catastrophic injuries and altering your life, even temporarily, it can. There are countless possible outcomes of hitting a pothole, whether you are the one hitting the pothole or it is another driver. In any scenario, it is entirely possible that you will face a long physical recovery, which would keep you out of work for a long time.

Not being able to work can put even the most financially well-off people into financial hardship. When you do not have a way to pay your regular bills, let alone your astronomical medical bills and steep vehicle repair costs, that places extra stress on you, taking your focus and attention away from your health and wellbeing.

A Red Bank Car Accident Lawyer at Ellis Law Helps Those Affected by Poor Road Conditions

Having your car hit a pothole can cause more than just a jolt. If you have been injured in a pothole-related accident, speak with a Red Bank car accident lawyer at Ellis Law. Contact us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with our experienced team. We proudly serve our neighbors in Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

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