The winter weather took its toll on New York City-area roadways, creating potholes of all sizes that can cause serious damage to vehicles, and even death, as in one unfortunate case in Riverhead, New York. A 37-year-old motorcyclist died at the hospital hours after he lost control of his vehicle as a result of hitting a pothole.
In order to prevail in a claim for damages resulting from an encounter with a pothole, the municipality must have notice of the condition and be given a reasonable time to repair it. Previously, New York State could not be held liable for damages as a result of potholes. Recent legislation has changed that. The New York State Department of Transportation has implemented a hotline to call specifically regarding potholes and debris. Under the DOT's Small Claims Act, an individual may receive up to $5,000 in damages from the state for pothole damage to a vehicle, but only if negligence was found on the part of the county after being provided with notice. Any amount in excess of $5,000 would need to be heard in court. However, drivers may only report potholes in the wintertime between November 16 and April 30. Claims, however, may be filed at any time of the year.
In many instances, such as in the sad case of the Riverhead motorcycle incident, potential damages far exceed the amount set by the DOT. In cases that cause physical harm, an individual may also be able to state a claim for personal injury against the municipality, or the individual responsible for the maintenance of the road.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of pothole damage, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss to ensure you will get the compensation you deserve. Call (212) 571-7171.