Potholes in Mississippi – particularly in the springtime – can result in a number of accidents causing damage to vehicles or even bodily injury. Contrary to popular belief, the city is not usually responsible for damages caused by potholes. However, determining who is liable can often be difficult without the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney such as a member of Morris Bart’s Mississippi legal team.
Potential Sources of Liability in a Mississippi Pothole Claim
According to the Mississippi Municipal Service Company, pothole claims are the most common type of damage claim submitted to state municipalities. Many of these claims are denied due to the inability to prove that the pothole was the fault of the city. However, there are some cases when a municipality can be found liable.
In order to show that the city is liable, you must first be able to prove that they had constructive knowledge that the pothole existed. This knowledge would likely be gained if there had been previous complaints made about the pothole. In addition to showing knowledge of the hazard, you must also show that the city made no effort to repair the pothole within a reasonable time or warn roadway users of the danger.
The following individuals or entities can also be responsible, depending on the circumstances.
Motorists often swerve to avoid a pothole and the risk of damaging their vehicle. Swerving on a roadway can be hazardous in and of itself, however, particularly if there are other motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians in the vicinity. If you were injured in an accident that was caused by another driver swerving to miss a pothole, that driver is generally liable.
Large or deep potholes can result in tire damage even on tires that are new, depending on factors such as how fast the car was moving when it hit the pothole. However, in some cases, the tires on the car are defective and prone to blowing out even as a result of a slight bump. If this is the case, then the manufacturer or distributor of the tires on your vehicle could potentially be liable.
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Why does Liability Matter in a Pothole Claim?
Liability matters in a Mississippi pothole claim because the liable party is responsible for compensating injuries and damage caused to others. Generally, this compensation is demanded from the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy. However, filing a claim against a municipality involves a slightly different process and has a much shorter filing deadline, known as the statute of limitations.
The Statute of Limitations on Mississippi Pothole Accident Claims
Individuals who have been injured in a pothole accident that was the fault of another driver or defective tires generally have three years in which to make their claim. Those who are planning to file a claim against the municipality, however, only have a year in which to file their claim.
Types of Compensation You Can Seek After Hitting a Pothole in Mississippi
As noted by the Mississippi Municipal Service Company, potholes can cause a driver’s airbags to deploy, resulting in injuries, and injuries from potholes can also be caused by accidents with vehicles swerving to avoid them. Additionally, motorcyclists and bicyclists can suffer injuries as a result of hitting a pothole and losing control. The type of compensation that can be sought for injuries occurring in these accidents includes:
- The cost of repairing your vehicle
- Wage loss and loss of future earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
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How Is Liability Proven in a Pothole Claim?
Once a personal injury attorney has considered the details of the accident and has determined liability, they will begin collecting the evidence that will prove their client’s claim. In order to prove liability, these elements must be shown:
- The at-fault party had a duty to take action to protect others in a given circumstance.
- This duty was breached by the contrary actions of the at-fault party.
- The breach resulted in an accident in which you were injured. Your injury incurred expenses and impacts.
The Type of Evidence Needed to Prove Your Claim
If the claim is filed against the municipality, the evidence needed to prove it includes copies of complaints that have previously been filed with the city about the pothole’s existence, as this shows that they had reason to know about the issue. Additionally, photos of the scene and the damage to your car are helpful, as are the statements of eyewitnesses.
If the claim is against another driver, the photos of the scene and vehicle damages are helpful, as is the police report showing citations that were issued to the driver for failure to maintain lane position. Other types of evidence that can be used include witness testimony or surveillance video from area businesses or homes.
With a defective product claim, any previous complaints about similar issues or recalls of the tire can be used to show liability, as well as the tire itself, and expert witnesses who can testify about the issue that caused the tire to blow.
Let Us Help You Determine Who Is Responsible for Your Pothole Accident
The legal team of Morris Bart consists of over 100 skilled attorneys and more than 150 legal professionals who are devoted to assisting those who have been injured in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, or Louisiana to obtain the compensation they need after being injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. We have garnered millions of dollars worth of compensation for our clients and we are comfortable seeking compensation for our clients through negotiated settlements, or litigation.
One year is not much time to file a claim against a municipality, and the three-year time limit on personal injury claims against at-fault drivers or manufacturers of defective tires passes quickly as well. Let’s talk soon about your case. For your free case evaluation, contact Morris Bart.
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