An AAA study determined that pothole damage costs motorists in the U.S. about $3 billion every year. The vehicle damage that can result from hitting a pothole is well known to many drivers unlucky enough to have had a run-in with a large road crater. But many people are less familiar with auto collisions caused by potholes.
How do potholes cause accidents? We will look at a few ways hitting a pothole can ultimately lead to an accident between two vehicles or between a vehicle and a pedestrian or bicyclist.
In the rare but serious car accidents caused by potholes, it can be difficult to determine fault and prove liability. You will need an experienced car accident lawyer to help you successfully file a personal injury claim against a negligent party. If you were injured in a Mississippi pothole accident, contact a member of the Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC legal team to learn more about your legal options.
How Do Potholes Form?
Potholes are a common sight in Mississippi. The Mississippi Municipal Service Company of Jackson, MS reported that pothole claims are one of the most frequently-cited liability claims for cities in Mississippi.
A pothole is a concave opening in the road surface formed by damage to the asphalt. Water, weather, and general wear and tear have a destructive effect on the asphalt’s surface, leading to the formation of tiny cracks and fissures that expand over time.
Fluctuating temperatures, pooled water, and heat from tire friction will all play a role in accelerating the road damage that causes potholes. Due to its up-and-down weather patterns, spring is the time of year affectionately known to many Mississippi drivers as “pothole season.” During this season, potholes have been known to form in mere hours.
Once a fissure has been opened, it does not take long for a large pothole to develop. If road crews do not quickly fix dips and cracks, asphalt holes can reach up to a few feet across and several inches deep. If you have driven over a pothole before, you know what an imposing hazard it can be to a motor vehicle, especially smaller cars and motorcycles.
What Kinds of Accidents Can Potholes Cause?
One of the most dangerous situations a pothole can cause happens when a driver loses control of the vehicle. If a motorist fails to see a large crater in the road and hits it without slowing down, the steering wheel can be wrenched out of their hands. Swerving into oncoming traffic is a serious concern in these types of situations. Attempting to avoid a pothole can also lead to accidents.
Some of the most serious pothole accidents occur when a driver:
- Loses control of the vehicle and collides with another car or object
- Swerves to avoid a large pothole in the road ahead
- Slams on the brakes after noticing a pothole at the last minute
- Attempts to avoid a pothole and hits a pedestrian or bicyclist
- Suffers such severe vehicle damage that a malfunction occurs soon after hitting the pothole
How Do Potholes Damage Your Car?
The jarring impact of hitting a pothole can be hard on you—and even harder on your vehicle. Depending on the depth of the pothole, the speed at which you hit it, and the original condition of your vehicle, you may need mild to serious repairs.
Some of the most common vehicle damage caused by potholes includes:
- Suspension or steering alignment issues
- Blown or punctured tires
- Damage to wheel rims
- Damage to exhaust system if a car “bottoms out” in a deep pothole
Who Is Liable When a Pothole Causes an Accident in Mississippi?
If you were involved in an accident after a driver hit a pothole in Jackson or another part of Mississippi, it may not be clear right away who is liable for the accident. From a legal standpoint, pothole accidents can be incredibly difficult to manage without experience. While some accidents are unavoidable, others may be the result of negligence. Your car accident attorney will be able to advise you of your right to file a car accident claim following a Mississippi pothole accident.
There are generally three entities that could be liable for your injuries in a pothole accident.
- Another driver. If the negligent actions of another driver were found to be the cause of your preventable injuries, they may be held liable. For example, if a driver was texting and driving, did not see a pothole until the moment before impact, and swerved recklessly into your lane, they may be responsible for any injuries and property damage their negligence caused.
- The manufacturer of a defective product. Vehicle parts are designed to hold up to a certain amount of wear and tear through everyday use. If an auto part or system unexpectedly and inexplicably fails after hitting a pothole (such as a tire blowout), it may have had an underlying issue in the first place. Your attorney can help you get to the bottom of an incident caused by a defective product.
- The municipal or state government. Many people believe the city is always responsible for a pothole accident, but that is not the case. There are very specific and narrow parameters under which a government body can be held liable for pothole accident injuries. Among other things, you must be able to prove that a city government explicitly had knowledge of a pothole and failed to fix the problem. In many cases, it is just not possible to hold the government liable. However, if it is clear in your case that a government body is liable for the accident, your lawyer will represent you in taking legal action to remedy the wrongdoing.
If a pothole caused your car accident, we at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC are ready to answer your questions during a free case evaluation. We can use our expertise to review the details of your case and determine your best course of action. Get in contact today by calling our office or filling out our no-obligation online contact form. We will make sure you get the legal guidance you need.