Who's Responsible When a Pothole Causes a Car Accident?
While many car accidents are caused by distracted, drunk, or otherwise irresponsible drivers, a large portion are actually caused by issues with the road itself. From potholes to missing guardrails, there are many types of poor road conditions that can cause a serious car accident. If you're injured in such a crash, however, recovering fair compensation can be a bit more challenging. This is because you typically must file your claim against a government agency, a process which follows very different rules.
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Holding the Government Responsible
Provided the dangerous road in question is not a private road or toll road, a government agency is most likely responsible for its maintenance. In Oklahoma, highways and other state roads are maintained by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. County roads are maintained by the county commissioner, and municipalities are responsible for maintaining their own streets. Unfortunately, the government is shielded from tort claims (wrongful acts which lead to liability) in many cases, so it's vital to retain an Oklahoma City personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options.
One of the biggest obstacles when filing a claim against a government agency is the shortened timetable. Before you can actually file a suit, you must notify the agency through a Notice of Tort Claim; they then have 90 days to either pay your claim or deny it. You can only file a lawsuit once the claim has been denied, or the 90 day period has expired.
It's important to note that unlike most personal injury suits, a claim against a government agency can only be started within one year of the accident. Additionally, you only have six months to actually file a lawsuit after the 90 day Notice of Tort Claim period has ended.
In a claim against a government agency, there are typically hard caps on the amount of money you can recover. In many cases, this amount is less than what would normally be awarded in a similar civil case against a private party. Furthermore, you cannot pursue punitive damages against the Oklahoma government, even if their behavior was egregiously negligent.
Our Oklahoma City personal injury lawyers can help you pursue fair compensation for your injuries. Call (888) 842-1374 today.