Is it possible to get reimbursed for damages suffered in a car accident if they were caused by road flaws of which the highway department was aware but failed to fix?

UPDATED: Aug 21, 2011

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Is it possible to get reimbursed for damages suffered in a car accident if they were caused by road flaws of which the highway department was aware but failed to fix?

I was invloved in a 1 vehicle accident about 2 months ago caused by a number of different factors, but mainly the road surface. I have learned that the frequency of accidents in the same exact spot is higher than I thought with occurances of about 1 every other week. I have been traveling this road to and from work for 16+ years and never had any issues until they resurfaced it a couple of years ago with the wrong materials. High tanker traffic that spills oil also contributes to the hazards especially when wet. Officials have been aware of this spot for some time without doing anything.

Asked on August 21, 2011 Pennsylvania


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It may be difficult to prove that the road surface caused your accident, but if you do decide to pursue the case, your lawsuit for negligence should name the state, county, city (if this road is within city limits), and highway department as defendants.

If you were not injured in the accident, your damages would be the property damage (cost of repairs to your vehicle).  If you were injured, you would have a personal injury claim and your damages upon completion of your medical treatment and release by the doctor would include your medical bills, documentation of any wage loss and compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

Prior to filing your lawsuit, it may be possible to settle the case with the insurance carrier(s) for the defendants. If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers for the insurance carrier(s), reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for negligence.  If the case is settled with all of the defendants, no lawsuit is filed.  If the case is settled with some, but not all defendants, your lawsuit would be filed against the remaining defendants. 

Also, since you are suing state agencies/entities, etc. you may or may not be required to file an administrative claim prior to filing the lawsuit once the administrative claim is denied.  If you are required to file an administrative claim, don't miss the filing deadline or your subsequent lawsuit may be barred.

As for the lawsuit, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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