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Personal Injury and Potholes: Myths and Facts


Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Feb 16, 2011 in Car Accidents

Late winter and early spring on Northern Indiana’s highways offer more than a roadside view of thawing snow. Commuters often complain about the dangerous pits, pocks, holes and craters in the road during that time of year.

In fact, these potholes are considered a common obstacle on the roadways. Your average Michiana commuter considers them a minor inconvenience.

Road obstructions, like potholes, can be the cause of a traffic collision injury that requires the help of a reputable South Bend auto accident attorney. Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak will help you explore your options to determine if you are entitled to compensation for your damages and losses. 

The Source Of The Myth

Local and state governments are at the root of the myth that pothole damage and injuries are the victim’s problem. The Indiana State Department of Transportation, county and municipal agencies have a process designed to handle pothole damage claims.

However, there are many hurdles in the pothole claim process.

  • There is a short statute of limitations of about nine months or less from the date of the incident.
  • The victim must provide evidence of damage that directly implicates the pothole and estimates of cost.
  • Some agencies require that another person report the pothole to prove its existence. Then, maintenance dates are compared to determine if the agency had ample time to respond to the report and fix the pothole.

The state of Indiana reportedly paid out a mere $5,000 on over 270 pothole claims in 2007. With these odds, receiving a payout on your pothole claim seems less likely than winning the Hoosier Lottery.

For victims of accidents and families of those killed in pothole related accidents, this is not enough.

Legal Remedy

Wrongful death, personal injury and negligence claims are all possible when dealing with a pothole related accident. Potholes can cause drivers to serve or lose control of their vehicles resulting in collisions involving South Bend wrongful death claim and personal injury. Many highway potholes are located in the center of the lane, where cars generally travel. To avoid particularly deep holes on severely pockmarked highways, cars swerve either into oncoming traffic or onto shoulder of the road.

As you can imagine, any number of injuries can occur from these actions, including:

  • Severe injury or death of pedestrian walking on the shoulder of the road.
  • Severe injury or death of vehicles traveling in opposite direction (head-on collision)
  • Severe injury or death of cars in a pileup situation that could result from a highway accident.

These events and others require more than a form sent to the county maintenance department. Furthermore, you cannot sue the state of Indiana for injuries that result from a pothole. Their claim system will not cover the loss of wages, life, property, and medical expenses. There is also the question of liability. Who is responsible is when multiple victims are involved and blaming the pothole?

An experienced South Bend personal injury attorney must handle serious accidents related to a pothole on public roadways. The attorney can sort out liability, insurance claims, recovery, and appropriate compensation for all damage and injuries. Consult Michiana’s personal injury lawyers at Pfeifer, Morgan, and Steziak before attempting the government pothole claims process.

Doing so can help you avoid signing away your rights to compensation.