Private property owners in all fifty states are required to reduce the risk of harm to visitors by maintaining reasonably safe premises, but if you’re injured on public property because a government agency was negligent, speak at once with a Bethesda personal injury attorney.
Both Maryland law and Virginia law entitle the injured victims of negligence to receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and related damages after a traffic accident.
But if you’re injured at a public park, or if you trip over a curled-up carpet at City Hall, your case will not be handled like a private personal injury claim. Bringing a personal injury claim against the government involves – you guessed it – additional bureaucracy and red tape.
Perhaps the most controversial injury claims made against local governments are claims arising from accidents caused by potholes. For example, the Baltimore Sun reported in 2018 that a pothole caused $2,300 worth of damages to a Towson man’s Mini Cooper.
These cases are controversial because liability may be in dispute. Motorists are supposed to watch out for themselves and avoid obviously hazardous situations and conditions. The government is not one hundred percent liable for every accident related to a pothole.
Diana Klink, a spokeswoman for the city of Suffolk, Virginia, told WVEC-TV, “Potholes are to be considered open and obvious. Drivers need to certainly be aware of their conditions on the roads when they’re driving.”
If a pothole was “open and obvious,” the driver – and not the government agency tasked with maintaining the road – may be deemed liable for a traffic accident related to the pothole, and that driver’s injury claim may be challenged or even entirely dismissed.
That’s only one reason why, if you are injured in Maryland or Virginia in a traffic accident that was caused by a pothole, you must be advised and represented by the right Montgomery County personal injury lawyer.
In Maryland or Virginia, if you are injured because a hazardous condition went unrepaired on municipal, county, or state property, the government agency responsible for maintaining that property may – in some cases – also be held liable for your personal injury or injuries.
If you are injured on either private or public property because the property owner or property management was negligent, to receive compensation, your premises liability attorney must prove:
1. The property’s owner had a legal duty to keep the premises reasonably safe.
2. The property’s owner failed to repair a hazardous condition on the premises.
3. That condition directly caused your personal injury or injuries.
4. The injury caused harm that entitles you to monetary compensation.
As mentioned previously, filing an injury claim against the government is more complicated than filing a claim against a private individual or a business.
Depending on the specifics of your coverage, your auto insurance company may pay for some of your damages in a pothole-related accident. However, if you are severely injured or disabled, you will need substantially more compensation than your own policy will provide.
Large potholes may cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles, and that puts passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists at risk. Bicyclists and motorcyclists can be thrown from their bikes if they hit potholes, and they sometimes sustain severe injuries.
If a pothole is deep, the damage can be similar to what happens in a high-speed collision. Potholes occur naturally wherever there are freezing temperatures. Over time, cracks develop in roadways. Water seeps in, freezes, and creates bulges in the pavement.
When the ice melts, it leaves an air pocket under the pavement’s surface. As that process is repeated, the pavement eventually crumbles and a pothole is the result. In colder climates, roadways that are not well-maintained naturally develop more potholes.
If you are injured in a pothole-related accident, a Virginia or Maryland personal injury attorney may be able to hold the responsible governmental agency accountable after gathering and examining the evidence and any witness statements.
If you bring a personal injury claim arising from a pothole-related accident against a state, county, or municipal government or government agency, these questions must be answered:
1. Was the pothole previously reported to the appropriate government agency?
2. Was that agency aware of the pothole? Was the pothole scheduled for repair?
3. Once aware of the pothole, did the agency reasonably have enough time to repair it?
4. Exactly how was the government agency negligent and liable for your injury?
You will need to share with your attorney as many details as possible related to the pothole, the roadway, and the events that led up to the accident: your direction, speed, the general road and weather conditions, the time of day, visibility, and all other pertinent details.
Photographs of the pothole, the roadway, the damage to your vehicle, and your own visible injuries can help you prevail with a personal injury claim. If there were eyewitnesses, try to get their contact information. Your lawyer may need their statements or testimony.
When should you speak to a Bethesda personal injury attorney? As soon as you’ve been examined and treated for your personal injury or injuries. The deadlines and time limits will depend on exactly which agency is responsible for the roadway where you were injured.
Nevertheless, and especially when you are filing an injury claim against any government agency, the case should be in your attorney’s hands as quickly as possible.
In Maryland and Virginia, personal injury attorneys provide the injured victims of negligence with a free first legal consultation with no obligation. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn how the law applies in your own case and to discuss the details of taking legal action.
If you and your attorney move forward with a personal injury claim, no attorney’s fee is paid unless and until your attorney acquires compensation on your behalf.
If you need to receive compensation for any injury caused by a government agency’s negligence, it is your right to be advised and represented by a good personal injury lawyer, and it’s a right that you need to exercise promptly.