Potholes are not uncommon in Ohio and many drivers have experienced the difficulties of trying to drive around or in a pothole during traffic. The Ohio Department of Transportation is responsible for fixing these potholes but can they be held liable for car accidents caused by potholes?
The Ohio Court of Claims recently ruled that the Ohio DOT can be held liable for a car accident caused by a pothole. A lawsuit was filed against the Ohio DOT when a woman was killed in a car accident after a truck hit several potholes and hit her vehicle head-on. The court ruled that the Ohio DOT was negligent when it failed to fix the potholes on the road, creating unsafe road conditions that inevitably led to the fatal car crash.
The court said that the sole reason for the car accident was due to the potholes in the road, and if the potholes had not been there, the crash would never had happened. During the case, the Ohio DOT said it was not liable for the accident because they did not know of the condition of the potholes. They also argued that despite the potholes, it was still the truck driver's fault for the collision because he should not have lost control of his truck when he drove over the potholes.
The victim's family argued that the Ohio DOT was negligent in keeping the road safe and that they should have fixed the potholes to prevent an accident like this from happening. During the trial, a witness testified that he informed the Ohio DOT about the potholes several weeks before the accident happened. In addition, an employer for the Ohio DOT said that they examined the pot holes two days before the accident and said they did not need immediate repair so they were not fixed right away.
The victim's family said they hope the Ohio DOT does not make the same mistake again and they learn to use more diligence when maintaining and inspecting Ohio roads.
Source: Cleveland, "Ohio must pay $3.3 million for fatal pothold accident, court rules," Sabrina Eaton, April 5, 2013