The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-15-2002, 03:02 PM
bernse bernse is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Can I sue the city for damage potholes cause?

This is more a hypothetical than anything.

The small (<50K people) city in which I live has a terrible pothole problem this spring.

No, let me rephrase. It has an un-freakin believable pothole problem this year. I have done my share of travelling and living in other cities and it is easily the worst I have ever seen. It is *impossible* to drive down any semi-main road in this city without hitting several during a 3 block drive. I am not exaggerating when I say this in the slightest.

Lets say a person is driving at a "safe" speed during rush hour and you are suddenly confronted with a large group of potholes of lets say, 3-4 inches deep (we have many that large, if not larger). They are unavoidable. If you swerve, you hit the car next to you or the curb. If you brake, you get rearended. So, you slow as best you can but take the hit. Rim/tire damaged. Maybe suspension and front end is too.

Can you sue the city for damages?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 04-15-2002, 03:12 PM
Guy Propski Guy Propski is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
I believe you'd have to prove that (1) the city was aware of the situation, and (2) they had no plans to do anything about it. Of course, IANAL, and I'm drawing upon the memory of an old episode of "The Paper Chase".......
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-15-2002, 03:28 PM
lucwarm lucwarm is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 2,789
You would need to check state & city laws to determine the extent that sovereign immunity has been waived. Many (most?) municipalities are sovereign-immunity waived for personal injuries arising from defects in the road. I'm not so sure about property damage.

Note that there is frequently a VERY short time-frame for filing claims against municipalities.

(standard disclaimer about legal advice)
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-15-2002, 03:34 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Of course you can sue the City. You can even sue me. But whether you can receive a favorable judgment is another question. As LUCWARM stated you have to check your local laws. Most cities do allow claims, but to a limited amount of damages, and they carry insurance for them. Here, in Charleston, SC, the city is sued many times a year. I guess they figure it's cheaper to pay the increased insurance rates than fix the goddamn potholes, cracked sidewalks, and general disrepair of their property.
__________________
There are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary numbers and those who don't.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-15-2002, 03:37 PM
wring wring is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
actually in my area, that's a fairly common lawsuit.

First, you have to demonstrate, however, that the city was alerted to that particular pothole. (ie keep record of your call). they have to have had sufficient time to deal w/it (in other words, don't call in am and expect it to be filled same day).

But, yes, in my jurisdiction, (Michigan) happens all the time.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-15-2002, 03:51 PM
gazpacho gazpacho is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,098
wring, Do most people win these suits against the cities? What kinds of settlements do they get.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-15-2002, 04:17 PM
wring wring is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
The settlements that I've heard of aren't for very much - generally the cost of a re-alignment or something of that nature (provided of course that people can demonstrate the work was done).

It's not something you do to 'make' money, but to be compensated for your loss (ie the loss of a hubcap, the realignment costs etc.). So, none of them are for very much. General 'wear & tear' isn't generally compensated.

Have I used the word "general" sufficient times?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-15-2002, 05:11 PM
lucwarm lucwarm is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 2,789
Quote:
Originally posted by wring
actually in my area, that's a fairly common lawsuit.

First, you have to demonstrate, however, that the city was alerted to that particular pothole.
There's a legend that NYC passed a requirement like this to stem the tide of personal-injury suits against the city for sidewalk defects. Well, according to the legend, a bunch of prominent personal-injury lawyers got together and hired a few people to inspect, on a continual basis, every sidewalk in the 5 boros. The City is then notified of every crack, every pothole, etc.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-15-2002, 05:38 PM
Diceman Diceman is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
I can second wring's statement. In Michigan, it's not uncommon for people to sue because some car-eating monster pothole has punctured a tire or damaged their vehicle's suspension. I don't know how often these suits succeed, however.
__________________
Reality is an illusion caused by lack of alcohol.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-15-2002, 05:48 PM
handy handy is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Pacific Grove, Calif
Posts: 17,493
I thought you have to ask the City for the money first, before you can sue them? THis would
probably be a small claims thing, which requires you ask the party for the money first.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 04-15-2002, 09:28 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Hub of the sports world
Posts: 14,959
NYC Pothole reporting form:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/signs/potholeform.html
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:45 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.