February 14, 2023

Can Potholes Cause Car Accidents?

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C Gagliano III, P.C. Help Victims Injured in Accidents Caused by Potholes.

You are probably familiar with potholes and what kind of damage they can do to your car. However, some potholes can be so severe that they can cause car accidents, too. Even if the pothole is new or does not look too deep, hitting a pothole can cause significant and extensive damage and can cause even an experienced driver to lose control.

There are multiple ways a pothole can cause an accident. Approaching one from a distance can cause even an experienced driver to panic and swerve unexpectedly. The sheer impact of hitting a pothole can cause a driver to lose control, as well as the damage that occurs. Knowing how potholes are created and what kind of damage they cause can help drivers understand why it is so important to avoid them as much as possible.

What Causes a Pothole?

Potholes are numerous this time of year, as the water outside freezes and thaws every passing day. The water that collects beneath the pavement of the road freezes overnight and expands. Then, as the daylight warms up the road, the frozen water thaws. This cycle causes the roadway to buckle, and further expand existing cracks and holes in the pavement, becoming potholes.

Hitting a pothole can be a jarring experience. Although it is more common for your tires and wheels to take the brunt of the hit, more serious damage can occur as well. Your vehicle could get knocked out of alignment or your steering rack or suspension can suffer irreparable damage. If the damage is not noticeable immediately, it may progress over time, causing your tires to wear rapidly or bent parts to become more damaged.

How Do I Prevent a Pothole Accident?

The best way to avoid a pothole-related accident is to avoid them altogether, but that is easier said than done. There are plenty of occasions where the driver did not see the pothole before they hit it, or a pothole caused another driver to swerve into you. However, there are some things you can do to prevent a pothole-related accident or to minimize the damage they cause:

  • Tire inflation: Tires are the first point of connection between yourself and the road, so having them operating on correct air pressure is very important. When they are low on pressure, even small potholes can cause bubbles or bulges which damage the sidewall, leading to a blowout.
  • Evasive maneuvering: Many people react so quickly when approaching a pothole that they do not think to check their surroundings before swerving, causing an accident. However, if you are aware of the traffic around you and keep a safe distance from others, you can minimize the risk of an accident should you have to perform an evasive maneuver. You could also straddle the pothole if you are unable to go around it.
  • Go slow: If you are unable to avoid the pothole and must go through it, slow down, and keep your steering wheel as straight as possible. Be as careful as you can and slowly roll your tire through. Going too quickly or slamming on your brakes in the pothole can lead to serious damage to your car.

Who is Liable if a Pothole Caused an Accident?

When a car accident is caused by a pothole, it may be difficult to determine who is responsible for the damage. An experienced car accident lawyer could oversee the case and go through every detail to help determine who may have been negligent or might be liable.

There are generally three parties to look at when determining liability in an accident case like these: a driver, the tire and wheel manufacturer or installers, or the municipality where the accident occurred:

  • Driver liability: The pothole-related car accident may be caused by another driver who was trying to avoid a pothole or hit a pothole and lost control of their vehicle. Either way, your lawyer can help you determine liability and can pursue compensation from the responsible driver, including medical expenses, lost income, and vehicle repairs.
  • Product liability: A tire blowout can be caused by whomever installed the tire and wheel, or the manufacturer of the tire themselves. The tire may be subjected to a product recall or was defective and may have prematurely blown out. The tire or wheel may have also been improperly installed. A lawyer would be able to go through the details of the case and determine if you have a product liability case.
  • Municipality liability: It is difficult to sue a municipality for a pothole they failed to repair, but it is not impossible. To be successful, you must prove that the government did something wrong and that led to your car accident. Normally, this means that the government failed to act or was somehow negligent. The government or municipality in charge of the roadway where your pothole accident occurred must have been given a reasonable amount of time to repair the issue.

When pursuing a case against the government, there is a special set of rules you must abide by. Many states, including Pennsylvania, follow a comparative negligence rule where it could be argued that the plaintiff had some responsibility in the accident. For instance, if the pothole that damaged a vehicle has been known about by many, the government may argue that the driver could have avoided the area altogether.

There is also a short deadline to process a claim against the government, usually around 30 days. In this time frame, you must notify the proper government entity in writing how much you are asking for compensation. The government will likely request additional information as well.

Because of these special set of rules and deadlines, it is imperative you speak with a car accident lawyer about your case before deciding to pursue a claim against another driver, the government, or whomever else you feel is liable for your accident. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer can help build your case and help you reach a positive outcome.

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C Gagliano III, P.C. Help Victims Injured in Accidents Caused by Potholes

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Norristown car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. right away. Call us today at 267-861-7100 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With our offices located in Philadelphia and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve all clients of Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Norristown.