Detroit roads are notorious for potholes. Ask any driver who has paid a hefty repair bill after encountering one of these costly craters. However, potholes do more than destroy tires and ruin suspension systems. Hitting a large pothole or swerving to avoid one can also cause a serious accident. Who is responsible for Detroit pothole damage? Here is a guide to protecting your rights and receiving the compensation you deserve.
Much like property owners, Michigan governmental agencies at the state, county and local levels have a duty to keep the property within their authority safe and free from hazardous conditions, including potholes.
According to statute MCL 691.1402, governmental agencies must maintain each highway in their jurisdiction “in reasonable repair so that it is reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.” The law also states that monetary damages may be recovered from the responsible agency for damage to people or personal property.
However, obtaining compensation from a government agency is no easy feat because Michigan laws include exceptions and conditions that make it difficult for drivers to recover repair costs.
For example, statute MCL 691.1403 exempts governmental agencies from liability unless they “knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known” about the pothole or defect for at least 30 days before the damage occurred and failed to take action to repair or remove the hazard.
Proving a governmental agency knew about a pothole is a challenging task. Nonetheless, it is possible to obtain certain records by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the appropriate municipality. However, government entities are allowed to charge for the time it takes to search their databases and for duplicating the requested records. These fees vary according to the agency as well as the extent of the search and the number of documents.
In addition to the above obstacles, many state, county and local government agencies deny claims for pothole damage repairs based on a Michigan statute that provides governmental immunity from liability in certain situations.
If your No-Fault policy includes collision coverage, pothole damage may be covered. However, because insurance companies typically regard vehicle damage from potholes or other road defects as collision claims, you could be required to pay the deductible specified by your policy. In addition, some policies do not cover tire damage, even if it is caused by a defect on a public roadway.
Further, while you are not at fault for the pothole damage, filing an insurance claim could result in a rate increase. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your insurance agent before claiming the Detroit pothole repair costs.
For those who are willing to brave the obstacles, here are some guidelines for filing a claim for reimbursement of the repair costs:
In addition, drivers should report hazardous potholes to the appropriate municipalities even when there is no damage.
In addition to vehicle damage, pothole accidents can result in serious injuries. For example, hitting a large pothole or swerving to avoid one may cause a driver to go off the road or veer into the next lane and hit another car.
If you are injured in a pothole-related car accident, your medical expenses are typically covered under your own Michigan No-Fault policy. However, unless a policy has unlimited Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical benefits, reimbursement of accident-related costs is limited to the amount of PIP medical coverage selected by the policyholder.
Nevertheless, if someone else caused the accident, a victim may be able to recover excess medical expenses and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, we can help. Our knowledgeable legal team knows what it takes to win your case, and we have the expertise and resources to ensure you receive the compensation you and your family deserve.
Car accident law is complicated, but finding the right Detroit car accident lawyer is simple.
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