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Can Potholes Cause Serious Car Accidents and Injuries?


Each year, almost one-third of all car accident fatalities are due to poor road conditions, and potholes are amongst the most common of those conditions. Potholes are ubiquitously found across streets, roads, and interstate highways, causing problems. There are usually no warning signs or markings to indicate a pothole, which makes them the menace of the roadways.

From injuries to vehicle damage, panic to fatalities, potholes run the gamut of potential problems for motorists. The impact of hitting a pothole is estimated to be the equivalent of a collision at 35 miles per hour. Of course, property damage and injury when hitting a pothole will ultimately depend on the size of the pothole and the rate at which your vehicle is traveling when you hit it. It, therefore, pays to be not only aware of potholes while driving, but also knowledgeable about the dangers they impose.

How Do Potholes Form?

Potholes are holes in the road that arise due to certain conditions. There are many ways they form, often ending up in front of your vehicle when you least expect them. Water is probably the most common cause of potholes. Although some states do not experience much snow or freezing rain, every state has plain rain, which means water buildup on the roads.

Water sitting in small crevices or pockets on the road causes potholes to form. Because water can remain on the ground for long periods without entirely evaporating, it can continue to expand and deepen a pothole. Repeated cycles of freezing and thawing also affect roads. When water freezes, it contracts; when it warms, it expands. This process creates potholes.

Extreme heat is often a culprit of pothole formation. The rapid vibration and expansion of molecules when water is heated can affect the road. Sometimes, time takes a toll on highways and causes potholes to appear. The guiltiest perpetrator of pothole forming, however, is traffic. Well-traveled roads form potholes quickly, especially when there is consistent poor weather.

Also, poor maintenance, usually the case due to a lack of local and state infrastructure spending, exacerbates the problem of pothole formation. A poorly maintained road could develop many issues in a brief period.

What Type of Damage to Your Vehicle Can Result from a Pothole Accident?

The depredation of potholes can cause significant damage to your vehicle. Potholes will almost always cause problems with your car’s suspension. Your car’s suspension system is a defensive unit consisting of shock-absorbing components built to keep your vehicle from suffering severe damage. Still, the consistency of hitting potholes, or the event of hitting a large one, is a problem that no suspension system is built to handle.

Hitting a pothole can also cause damaged tires and alignment problems. Steering problems can be the result of hitting a pothole as well. If that is not enough, hitting a sizable pothole in some cases can result in engine damage, exhaust system damage, and even damage to the body of your vehicle. Worst of all is the damage that avoiding a pothole can cause. Avoiding an unexpected pothole can easily cause you to swerve and hit another car, often totaling a vehicle and causing severe injuries.

What Types of Injuries Can Result From a Pothole Accident?

It is not uncommon for a person to suffer injuries from a pothole accident. An injury can happen from hitting a pothole directly or swerving to avoid one. Many types of damages can result from a pothole accident in either case. The injuries range from whiplash, broken bones, concussions, spinal cord injuries, and even internal bleeding. Merely hitting a pothole can cause severe damage, the more giant the pothole, the greater the possibility of serious injury.

The worst-case scenario is often when a driver tries to avoid a pothole by swerving. This is how drivers end up in head-on collisions. Severe injury and even death can result from attempting to avoid a pothole.

Motorcyclists have a much greater risk of injury or death than anyone else because of a lack of protection. A motorcyclist could easily be thrown off and experience grave consequences. Bicyclists and pedestrians can also experience severe injuries from potholes similar to that of motorists.

Who Is Liable for Pothole Accidents?

 Both government agencies and private property owners are responsible for the upkeep of their traveled areas: streets, roads, driveways, walkways, highways, parking lots, etc. Private property owners must maintain a safe place for people to walk and drive. A private property owner needs to make the necessary repair of any problem that was previously reported. Failure to maintain a safe travel area makes private property owners subject to a lawsuit if a person is injured.

Government agencies are protected by a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity. This protects cities and states from liability. It is a tricky slope to navigate a lawsuit against a city or state. Nevertheless, all cities and states are ultimately responsible for maintaining their streets, roads, highway, bridges, sidewalks, and any other travel area under their control.

A claim would be warranted if the pothole causing the accident had previously been reported. Prior notice, sometimes called actual notice, makes for a strong suit. The agency responsible for repairs must fix any road hazard quickly and efficiently. In this case, a car accident resulting from a pothole would place the accountable agency at fault for failing to have made the necessary repairs that would have prevented the accident in the first place.

Another warranted claim for a pothole accident would be if the road traveled had been so problematic and dangerous that the city or state should have known about the hazards. In this instance, the city or state should have navigated the steps to properly repair the problems, making the road safe for travel.

Towson Car Accident Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Plaintiffs injured in Severe Pothole Accidents

Having a lawyer is essential if you have suffered an injury and extensive costs due to a pothole accident. For experienced legal help regarding a pothole accident, speak with one of our Towson car accident lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Call us at 443-589-0150 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, 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.

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