Potholes can present severe risks for drivers. According to data from AAA, potholes cause approximately $3 billion in losses annually, and they account for a significant number of serious and fatal accidents across Florida each year. If you have been seriously injured in a pothole accident, our Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accident lawyers can help you recover just compensation, but it is important that you hire us to conduct an investigation right away.
After a motor vehicle accident, collecting evidence is crucial to proving your claim for damages. But, due to the risks that potholes present, state and local road authorities will often repair potholes promptly. If you contact us immediately after your accident, we may be able to document the existence of the pothole before it gets repaired.
If we cannot, the patch may serve as evidence, and there may be other evidence available to prove liability as well. As a result, regardless of how long it has been since your accident, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Hollander Law Firm.
Government Liability for Pothole Accidents
In Florida, state and local government agencies are responsible for ensuring that the roads are safe for motorists. In addition to ensuring that highways and local roads are properly designed and constructed, this includes ensuring that they are properly maintained. When a dangerous pothole appears, the agency that has jurisdiction over the road has an obligation to repair it as expeditiously as possible.
What Should Government Authorities Do to Prevent Pothole Accidents?
Not only do government authorities have an obligation to repair potholes, but they have an obligation to try to prevent potholes as well. Once a pothole appears, it is often only a matter of time until an accident occurs. By preventing potholes, government authorities can prevent accidents, and this can save drivers, passengers, and other road users from serious injuries and substantial losses.
There are several steps that government authorities can – and should – take to prevent pothole accidents in Florida. These steps include:
- Regularly inspecting Fort Lauderdale’s roads and highways for potholes
- Conducting routine maintenance, including repaving and resurfacing as necessary
- Closing lanes or roads and providing clear detours when potholes present accident risks
- Posting warning signs when it is not possible to repair a pothole or close a road immediately
- Repairing known potholes as promptly as possible
Of course, the best way to prevent pothole accidents is to prevent the need for maintenance and repairs. Generally speaking, if a road is properly constructed with the right materials, the risk of potholes forming should be pretty low. Negligent road construction is a factor in many pothole accidents as well, and government authorities must take adequate steps to ensure that the roads they (or their contractors) construct are safe for Florida’s motorists.
When Can Government Authorities Be Held Liable for Pothole Accidents?
With all of this in mind, when can government authorities be held liable for pothole accidents? In short, government authorities can be held liable any time their negligence leads to a collision. If a state or local authority should have taken steps to prevent an accident but failed to do so, then the authority is legally responsible for the accident and the victims’ accident-related losses. As Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accident lawyers, we handle cases against the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and other agencies throughout South Florida involving:
- Failure to inspect the local roadways for potholes or pothole warning signs
- Failure to promptly fix known potholes
- Failure to respond to complaints from drivers about potholes
- Improper fixing of potholes or other issues with the road
- Creation of dangerous construction zones during pothole repairs
Importantly, claims against government entities are subject to special rules and procedures. For example, under Florida law, you only have 180 days to initiate a claim against a government entity. You must notify the appropriate agency of your intent to file a claim within 180 days, and then the agency will conduct an investigation in order to determine whether your claim should be permitted to move forward. At Hollander Law Firm, we have experience handling claims against government agencies across South Florida, and we can use our experience to timely pursue a claim on your behalf.
Government Contractor Liability for Pothole Accidents
In many situations, government agencies will hire private contractors to perform road design, construction, and maintenance. If a government contractor made a mistake that led to your pothole accident, then you can pursue a claim against the government contractor directly. Unlike claims against government agencies, claims against government contractors are not subject to special rules and procedures. Our lawyers can investigate to determine if a government contractor is liable for your injuries; and, if so, we can file a lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve.
Pothole Accidents Involving Other Vehicles
When a driver encounters a pothole on the road, he or she must react appropriately. Swerving dangerously, failing to notice a pothole while texting behind the wheel, and various other forms of driver negligence can lead to vehicle-on-vehicle collisions involving potholes. In these situations, not only could a government agency or contractor be liable, but the negligent driver could be liable as well.
Was a negligent driver to blame for your pothole accident in Fort Lauderdale? If so, his or her insurance company may be liable for your losses, but first you will need to file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy. We help accident victims secure PIP coverage and file fault-based bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance claims, and our lawyers can explain everything you need to know in order to maximize your recovery.
Speak with our Fort Lauderdale Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers for Free
If you have been injured in a pothole accident in South Florida, we encourage you to contact us promptly. For a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accident lawyers, call 954-287-0566 or tell us about your accident online now.