While the transition from winter to spring weather can be a welcome one in the northeast, with it often comes a less-than-desirable effect on our roadways—potholes. Both Philadelphia and New Jersey are notorious for potholes. Potholes sometimes cannot be avoided and may even form on well-maintained streets. Winter weather brings moisture that seeps into small cracks in the pavement. The moisture freezes in low temperatures and expands, causing the roadway to crack and break apart.
When the temperature increases with spring, the pavement often crumbles as a result of multiple cracks. The result is what we call “potholes.” Potholes form directly in the path where traffic is heaviest. That means potholes are often much worse in heavily-trafficked areas such as Philadelphia or Norristown, as the stress from the constant weight of traffic and heavy commercial vehicles can break away more and more pavement around the edges of the potholes. Often street maintenance crews in large cities like Philadelphia cannot keep up with the number of potholes forming, and some may persist for a long period of time, presenting hazards for all vehicles on the road.
Crashes Due to Potholes
Potholes are dangerous and may cause accidents. In some cases, a driver may unexpectedly hit a pothole and sustain serious damage to their vehicle, such as undercarriage, axle, or tire damage. In other situations, hitting a pothole can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and crash into another car. A driver may also suddenly slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid a large pothole, causing a collision.
Potholes accidents have the potential to cause serious traumatic injuries to vehicle occupants, in addition to vehicle damage. Pothole accident cases can also be complicated, especially if they involve claims against a governmental entity responsible for maintaining the roads. It may also be difficult to prove that a pothole caused a collision. For these reasons, anyone who has been injured in an accident that may have resulted from a dangerous pothole needs the right attorney on their side as soon as possible.
Motorcycle and Bicycle Accidents
Potholes can cause accidents involving any type of vehicle. Even pedestrians can trip and fall due to a pothole. However, potholes can be particularly dangerous for people riding motorcycles or bicycles. These two-wheeled vehicles can react in extremely dangerous ways if an operator suddenly hits a pothole.
First, if a motorcyclist or bicyclist tries to avoid a pothole by swerving around it, they can easily lose their balance due to the sudden movement, and may lose control and crash. If they actually hit the pothole, the front tire may drop into the pothole and stop. The momentum of the vehicle can then cause the motorcycle or bicycle to tip forward, often throwing the rider forward off the vehicle. In such accidents, riders often hit the pavement face-first. Even with a helmet, this type of crash can result in severe injuries, including:
- Broken jaw
- Broken nose or cheekbones
- Dental damage
- Skull fractures
- Traumatic brain injury
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractured hands, wrists, or arms
- Friction burns (“road rash”)
- Serious lacerations
- Fractured legs or shattered knees
Many of these injuries leave a motorcyclist or bicyclist scarred, disfigured, or disabled for the rest of their lives. Those who are lucky enough to survive may have extreme costs and losses due to serious injuries—which could have been prevented simply by repairing a pothole.
Seeking Compensation After a Pothole Accident
If a city or state failed to repair a pothole in a timely manner and you suffered injuries as a result, you may be able to hold the municipality responsible for all of your losses. Unfortunately, pothole cases are rarely that straightforward and municipalities will fight liability for property damage and injury costs whenever they can. To make matters worse, they often have government immunity on their side, which can limit a government agency’s liability for certain types of accidents.
Even if you do have the ability to file an insurance claim against the government, the requirements are different from regular personal injury actions. For example, time limits are generally much shorter and you must include specific information for your claim to be considered. For this reason, it is essential that you have an attorney on your side who understands how sovereign immunity laws work and how to pursue a claim on your behalf when applicable.
If a claim against the government is not possible after a pothole accident, you may have to turn to your own insurance to cover your losses. Just because you pay premiums each month does not mean that your insurance company will simply cut you a check, however. Instead, such insurance claims often require a significant amount of negotiating before you receive fair compensation for your vehicle damage and all of your injury-related losses. Having a knowledgeable lawyer represent you when filing a claim with an insurance company can help maximize your recovery.
Contact a Philadelphia and Atlantic City Car Accident Lawyer for Help
Whether you were injured in a car accident, bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, or any other type of vehicle accident, you should not hesitate to call The Levin Firm to discuss your rights. We can assist you throughout the entire insurance process to help ensure you recover proper compensation for your pothole-related accident and injuries. We can also determine whether a municipality was negligent in failing to repair a pothole or another road hazard. Our team has the skill and experience to take on governmental entities when necessary. However, cases against government agencies have very strict time limits and any delay can threaten your ability to seek compensation. Please call 215-825-5183 or contact us online so we can get started evaluating your case as soon as possible.