When you hit a pothole, your first thought is probably the property damage to your vehicle. After all, no one wants to deal with a flat or punctured tire, bent rims, or worse. Hitting a big pothole at a bad angle could even lead to a broken axle. No matter what, the expenses add up quickly, and you wonder if there is any way to recover the money you must spend on repairs.
This worry could increase if hitting the pothole caused a collision, and you have medical bills, lost income, and other expenses, in addition to pain and suffering. Unfortunately, these are the dangers of potholes in Louisiana, and it is not always clear who is liable for your damages.
Who Is Legally Responsible for Road Maintenance?
At first glance, it may seem easy to determine who has legal responsibility for keeping a road in good, drivable condition, free from major hazards like potholes? Is it a state highway or a municipal street? Is the parish responsible?
However, this is rarely straightforward. Multiple parties are often responsible for different tasks related to road maintenance. For example, one agency may clear the drains to prevent standing water, while another maintains the asphalt. Pothole repair could fall under the city, parish, state, or federal government. Some jurisdictions could even share responsibility for this specific task.
Getting to the bottom of who maintains the stretch of road where your accident occurred can be challenging. In general, you could start with whether it is a federal, state, or local road. Then, you could contact the corresponding transportation department. However, you might find yourself on a wild goose chase. Fortunately, working with a lawyer can help.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
There Are Limitations on Suing Some Government Agencies
In addition to struggling to determine liability, another challenge you could face when seeking compensation for your pothole damage is that state law bars you from suing some government agencies. For others, you could encounter strict limitations on bringing a case.
La. Rev. Stat. § 13.5106 sets out how you could pursue compensation from a government agency in Louisiana. The rules include:
- You can only file a suit in state court.
- You cannot recover more than $500,000.
- You can only recover particular damages.
- Any recovered funds must go into a reversionary trust.
A reversionary trust is an account that only allows the victim to pay for medical care and other expenses as they occur. The trustee must approve when you access your money. In addition, you cannot spend any award you receive for any other purpose.
What do I Do If I Just Suffered Property Damage?
If possible, you can file a police report. In addition, have law enforcement come to the scene and document what happened and the damage to your vehicle. As much as safely possible, take pictures or video of the pothole, your car, and others damaged by the same hazard. Finally, contact your insurer if you have collision coverage and discuss your options for repairs if you want to file a claim and pay a deductible.
Alternatively, you could file a claim with the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (DTOD) if your damage occurred on a state road. Contact the parish or city to learn more about your options otherwise.
Pothole Accidents and Injuries
When you suffer injuries in a pothole accident, your case will likely be worth more than if you had property damage alone. In addition to car repairs, you may have medical bills, lost income, and even ongoing care and support costs. Working with a personal injury law firm familiar with these incidents and the applicable laws could help you take the proper steps and secure a larger payout.
When our lawyers take on a pothole accident claim in Louisiana, we investigate what happened, then identify all potentially liable parties. Next, we consider whether our client can take legal action against them or what other mechanisms may be available to recover fair compensation on their behalf. Finally, we develop a plan to do so.
It is imperative to get started on your case as soon as possible. While La. Civ. Code Art. 3492 generally gives you up to one year to sue in a personal injury case, additional deadlines often supersede the statute of limitations when your claim is against a government agency. As a result, you may only have days or weeks to take legal action.
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Discuss Your Next Steps With a Lawyer From Morris Bart, LLC
The Morris Bart law firm helps those who suffered losses recover compensation following a Louisiana pothole accident. We may be able to help you. Therefore, let us assess your case for free today. You can talk with an attorney familiar with these laws. The areas we serve include eight offices that cover the entire state. All clients pay based on a contingency fee, with no retainer or other upfront costs.
Call (800) 537-8185 now to speak to an attorney about your case.
to find a Morris Bart office near you.