Many drivers will suffer flat tires, bent rims, and even broken axles from hitting potholes. Even worse, a pothole could cause a serious car accident. A recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) reveals that potholes cost American drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over a five-year period. The AAA also found that 16 million drivers across the United States suffered damage to their vehicles from potholes during the same time period.
Potholes form when asphalt breaks and crumbles due to pressure from traffic and weather. Drivers in colder climates often start seeing potholes during and just after winter due to the road freezing and thawing, but they can appear at any time.
How can a Pothole Cause a Car Accident?
A pothole can cause all different types of accidents for both drivers and pedestrians. Some ways that a pothole can cause a collision include:
- A driver spots a pothole and stops quickly to avoid it, causing a rear-end collision.
- A motorist drives over a deep pothole and gets a wheel stuck, causing the car to spin out of control.
- A driver sideswipes a car in an adjacent lane trying to avoid a pothole.
- A motorcyclist is ejected from their bike after hitting a pothole.
- A driver unknowingly hits a pothole, losing the car’s bumper from the force, which then causes a chain reaction accident.
- A driver hits a deep pothole, which causes the car to swerve and hit another motorist.
No vehicle is immune to pothole damage. Potholes can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, resulting in serious physical injuries, damage to cars, and accidents involving additional motorists. Damage severity depends on how the driver navigated the pothole, the depth of the pothole, and whether the vehicle’s wheels suffered damage.
Anyone who has suffered damage to their car or body after hitting a pothole should consult with a car accident lawyer. A lawyer will find the liable party and work to get compensation for damages.
What are Common Bodily Injuries Caused by Pothole Accidents?
The sheer force of hitting a pothole can cause a vehicle to bounce down and up again. The tires may become stuck or cause the car to spin out of control or even flip over. Drivers who swerve to avoid potholes can become injured. Common injuries resulting from pothole car accidents include:
- Head trauma. After hitting a pothole, the sudden bouncing of the vehicle can cause a driver’s head to move uncontrollably, hitting the roof, frame, or steering wheel. The result can be a concussion, skull fracture, or traumatic brain injury.
- Whiplash. Neck and spine damage is possible when the sudden dip from a pothole violently moves a person’s neck, straining soft tissue and vertebrae.
- Tailbone injuries. Tailbone injuries are common after hitting a pothole because drivers are often forcefully bounced from their seats and back down again.
- Broken bones and internal injuries. When a tire blows out or a rim is bent from hitting a pothole, the driver can quickly lose control. This can cause collisions with other motorists and serious bodily injuries. When a driver tries to avoid a pothole by swerving around it, a sideswipe accident can happen and cause physical harm.
How can a Pothole Damage My Car?
Although most drivers will notice damage from a pothole right away, sometimes, the damage is not noticeable until later. Always look for signs of damage after hitting a pothole, including the car shaking or pulling to one side. There could be one of the following damages:
- Tire blowout, bulging sidewalls
- Rim damage
- Bumper damage
- Suspension damage
- Damage to shock absorbers and struts
- Alignment problems
- Damage to the car’s body from a sideswipe or rollover
A driver should address their car problems right away for safety and try to get their costs reimbursed from the liable party.
Who is Liable for a Pothole Car Accident?
The government is responsible for the quality of roads and the safety of residents. It is up to the government to inspect, repair, and maintain roads regularly. Depending on where the pothole car accident occurred, the liable party may be a state government, a county, or a local municipality. Liability is not always clear-cut. Sometimes, the driver of the car that hit the pothole and caused an accident can be held liable.
If property damage and a personal injury stems from a pothole, the first step is to file a claim against the government, either the city, county, or state, depending on who is responsible for maintaining the road. The government can decide to settle the claim, but a driver still needs to prove that the government was negligent. If a fair and just settlement cannot be reached with the government, the victim can file a civil lawsuit against them.
The driver must prove that the government was negligent in fulfilling their legal obligation to reasonably maintain the road for drivers’ safety. Proving government negligence involves verifying that the government knew or should reasonably have known about the pothole. The government will almost always counter that the driver was also at fault. There are strict rules about filing a claim against the government, and there are caps on the amount of compensation a pothole accident victim can receive. A lawyer can help a pothole accident victim navigate this complex process, which often includes strict deadlines and procedures.
Towson Personal Injury Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Work for Victims of Pothole Car Accidents
It is often difficult to determine who is liable for a pothole accident. If you were injured because of a pothole or poorly maintained road, a Towson personal injury lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can determine the correct liable party and negotiate a fair settlement. Call us at 443-589-0150 or complete our online form for a free consultation. We have offices located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, and we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.