Call today for a consultation


Legal Blog

Who Is Responsible for Pothole Car Accidents?

Published: Feb 14, 2024 in Auto Accident, Personal Injury
An East St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer at The Cates Law Firm Can Help After a Serious Pothole Accident

Potholes can cause significant property damage and injuries. It is estimated that pothole damages cost about $3 billion annually – in the worst-case scenarios, they lead to serious bodily injuries. Road hazards like these are also thought to be responsible for one-third of yearly traffic fatalities. What causes potholes, how do they cause accidents, and who can be held responsible?

How Do Potholes Form?

New potholes seem to appear every spring after wintertime freezes and thaws. The water on and under our roadways expands and contracts, weakening them. Road salt only makes things worse by reducing the freezing temperature and increasing the number of cycles.

The weight of traffic is the second ingredient for potholes. It constantly presses on those weak spots, displacing the material. That is why potholes are likelier to form in the middles of roads, but they are also found on shoulders and other places.

How Can Potholes Cause Accidents and Injuries?

The likelihood of a pothole accident increases with the pothole’s depth. When an unsuspecting driver’s vehicle goes into one, the driver and passengers can get hurt from being suddenly jolted around. A larger vehicle might shield those inside more effectively, but the injuries can be more severe for those in smaller vehicles, motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Who Will Pay for My Pothole Accident?

The answer to that question depends on the circumstances. There are typically three possibilities:

  • The other driver: Another driver could be liable for losing control of their vehicle when hitting or swerving to avoid a pothole.
  • The municipality: Surrounding municipalities (city, county, or state agencies) are responsible for maintaining and repairing their roads to ensure they are damage-free. Your lawyer would have to help you prove that the municipality was aware or should have known about the pothole and was negligent.

Can I Sue a Municipality for Pothole Damages?

Depending on where you live, there will probably be an administrative claim process that needs to be completed first. Negligence in maintaining a road might be the basis of a claim, but you might be required to prove that the negligence was “gross” or “clear.” Illinois has special rules that apply to claims against the government and the kind of compensation that can be received. Your car accident lawyer can explain these in more detail.

An East St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer at The Cates Law Firm Can Help After a Serious Pothole Accident

Recovering damages from a pothole accident can be difficult. Contact a skilled East St. Louis car accident lawyer at The Cates Law Firm today. Call 618-277-3644 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients in St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.