Who Is Responsible If A Pothole Causes An Automobile Accident In Maryland?

By Peter DePaolis

Potholes are more dangerous than many people realize. They not only do damage to the vehicle but frequently cause automobile accidents as well. However, holding the responsible party liable in court could be more difficult than you might realize. You do have legal options, and a Maryland personal injury attorney can explore them with you.

How Can a Pothole Cause a Maryland Car Accident?

Potholes are typically caused by a number of factors such as heat, cold, and heavy traffic. They can vary in size and depth, but even relatively small potholes can prove dangerous due to their effect on a vehicle and its driver. A motorist can lose control of the steering and crash into another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a stationary object. For motorcyclists and bicyclists, the risk is even more pronounced, due to the inherently less stable nature of motorcycles and bicycles.

An accident can also be caused by a driver who swerves or hits the brakes to try to avoid a pothole. Since most drivers instinctively know the sort of damage that may be done to their vehicles, this reaction often comes without thinking. You can imagine the danger of this type of reaction, especially in heavy traffic. A bad enough pothole may even cause a tire blowout, which can also easily trigger an accident.

The danger of a pothole may be aggravated by other factors, such as darkness, poorly marked roads, or inclement weather. They are also more hazardous in areas with heavy traffic, due to the sheer volume of vehicles that could come in contact with it. Speeding is another factor that will make a pothole more dangerous. Speeding drivers are less capable of avoiding road hazards like potholes and may swerve abruptly once they realize they’re approaching a pothole.

After any type of automobile accident, identifying potentially liable parties is one of the first and most critical tasks. This is no less true with an accident involving potholes. More than one party may share blame for one of these wrecks, depending on the circumstances. For example:

  • City, state, or other government. A governmental entity, like a city, may have violated an obligation to safely maintain its roads. This breach becomes even more serious if the government was aware, or should reasonably have been aware, of the pothole. However, an accident victim should understand that there are different rules involved when it comes to suing the government.
  • Private contractor. A third-party, private contractor may have been responsible for either repairing the pothole or for more general preventive maintenance. Failure to do so could render the contractor liable. Sometimes, both governmental entities and private contractors share blame for a serious pothole accident.
  • Another driver. You may have been a victim of a pothole accident because you ran over it and got hurt. But in many cases, like those mentioned above, other motorists are liable for their failure to drive carefully under the circumstances. All drivers owe everyone else on the road the duty of safely operating their automobiles, no matter the road conditions.

Pothole accidents can cause serious injuries that result in medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Regardless of the nature of your injuries, you need skilled legal representation to advocate for your interests. Call Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP and put our experience to work for you.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.