Vehicle Damage Due To Poor Road Conditions: Who Is Liable?

If your vehicle is damaged (or you are injured) because of:

Who is legally liable in those situations?

In many cases, it is the government entity charged with maintaining the road where your accident took place. But there are also times when someone other than the government is responsible.

This article we'll help you determine who is responsible if your vehicle is damaged due to poor road conditions, and how to proceed with making a claim. (Remember this is not legal advice but only Pothole Crusader advice. If your not sure how to proceed get legal advice from a professional.)

Its The Government's Responsibility To Maintain Roads

The city, county, or state charged with maintaining the road where your accident occurred may be responsible for any damage caused by poor road conditions. The theory here is, because it is the government’s job to maintain the roads, the government is also responsible for any damage that results when roads aren't kept reasonably safe. The key here is what is considered "reasonable." The government won't always be responsible simply because your vehicle was damages by the questionable condition of a road.

State laws typically allow the government a reasonable amount of time to discover poor road conditions and a reasonable amount of time to repair them. Governments generally discovery dangerous road conditions in one of two ways:

This is where you can make a big difference by reporting potholes because if the "government" can prove it did not know about the pothole it probably won't have to pay your claim.

The Pothole Crusader's emphasis in getting you to report dangerous potholes is not only to get the government to repair them in a timely manner but also to file a successful claim because you have taken the Initiative to report the pothole.

Granted you can't report every pothole you see but you can make a list of some of the potholes on the roads you drive on a regular basis.

Make a copy of the pothole lists you give to the government so the government can't deny their knowledge of the pothole you might hit in the future!!

If the government has not discovered a dangerous road condition, there is a good chance it will not be responsible for any damage the condition causes. The one exception may be, if the dangerous condition has been around long enough that the government should have discovered it. In that case, the government may still be on the hook even though it did not actually know about the poor road condition.

Also, the government will not likely be responsible for damage caused by a dangerous road condition if it has not had enough time to repair the condition. Bottom line: If you are going to make a successful claim against the government for damage to your vehicle caused by poor road conditions, you will have to prove two things:

Making a Claim The first thing you will want to do is take down relevant information. Record the following: the general location of the poor condition, i.e. what businesses/landmarks are nearby? the name of the road the direction you were traveling the exact location of the poor condition in the road the physical characteristics of the poor conditions, e.g. size and depth of a pothole the names and contact information of any witnesses.

If you think you may have a claim, you will need to find out which government body is responsible for maintaining the road in question. has made this easier for you by listing contact information of all 46 SC Counties. 

Once you determine which government body is responsible, you will need to give the government body notice of your claim. You will probably need to do this quickly. Typically there is a limited amount of time to make such a claim. If too much time has passed, you may lose your right to make a claim. (Remember this is not legal information but Pothole Crusader information. Contact a professional if you are not sure what to do.)

Proving Your Claim

The chances are, the government is not going to send you a check for your property damage just because you make a claim. You will have to prove the government is legally liable. First, you need to show the government knew about the poor condition. The government may admit to its knowledge of the poor condition.

If not, you have a couple of options: Request Survey Records – Government bodies conduct regular surveys to check for poor road conditions. You can request these records. Examine them and determine whether someone previously located the poor road condition that caused your vehicle damage.

Show the Government Should Have Known About the Poor Condition -- This could be difficult. It will take some leg work. You will have to take measures to research the area. One way to do this is to interview people who live nearby.

(While your interviewing people nearby encourage them to become Pothole Crusaders also. The more Pothole Crusaders there are the more dangerous potholes will be reported and possibly avoid vehicle accidents including your own!)

Report the Incident No Matter What

Whether or not you decide to make a claim, you should report the poor road condition. There is a good chance you will help prevent the poor condition from causing damage to someone else’s vehicle. You may even help prevent someone from being seriously injured. 

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