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Can You Sue for a Pothole Accident?

A Georgia road is cracked with a pothole filled with water.

Georgia’s roads are pitted with many potholes, some of which are so large they could upend your bike. Whereas four-wheel cars ride smoothly over many road hazards, motorcyclists can suffer accidents and serious injuries when striking even a moderately sized hole.

Please call Lawbike Motorcycle Injury Lawyers to discuss any accident caused by hitting a pothole. Under Georgia law, you might be able to sue the state or city for failing to repair a pothole which injures you. Our Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer goes into greater detail below.

Why Potholes are Dangerous

Potholes present many problems for riders:

  • Your front wheel could get stuck in a very deep pothole. Although the bike stops moving, you don’t—and you go flying off the bike. You can land on your head or neck.
  • Potholes can cause temporary imbalance, and many riders cannot keep their motorcycle upright. You can go skidding down the road and get run over by another vehicle.
  • A motorist might swerve to avoid driving into a deep pothole, but they either sideswipe you or collide with your motorcycle head on.
  • Other motorists can lose control when they hit a pothole and come bouncing into your lane, causing a horrifying accident.

As a result of hitting a pothole, many motorcyclists suffer serious bodily injuries—concussions, fractures, neck injuries, and back pain. They also incur expenses to fix their motorcycle.

If you see a pothole, try to avoid it. Also remember to report them so that you protect other motorists and riders. In Atlanta, you can call 311 directly to report any holes.

Is the Government Legally Liable for a Pothole Accident?

Georgia and cities like Atlanta have a duty to keep the roads reasonably safe. This doesn’t mean the road has to be perfect, but the government must address large potholes to prevent injuries.

Two factors are crucial in determining government liability:

1.       How long the pothole has existed.

2.       Whether the government had notice of the pothole when you struck it.

If the pothole just appeared, and the city never received any complaints about it, they might not be responsible for the accident. Roads do not have to be perfect, and the government needs a reasonable amount of time to fix a road hazard they find out about.

However, if the pothole has been on the road for an extended period, and/or the government has notice of it, they need to fix it promptly. Failure to address the hazard is considered negligence, and you can submit a claim for compensation.

Who Maintains the Road?

Before you can make a claim, you need to identify which government entity is responsible for the roads. Most roads belong to municipal governments, but the State of Georgia has responsibility for State Highways. The identity of the government responsible matters in terms of your legal obligations, such as who you submit notice to.

Submit Notice of the Accident in a Timely Manner

Generally, the state and its municipalities are immune from lawsuits. However, Georgia has made exceptions for certain types of accidents caused by negligence, such as failure to fix a pothole.

Because the state is allowing you the right to sue, they can attach conditions. One condition is that you submit notice of your claim to the government in a timely manner:

  • 6 months if you are making a claim on a city
  • 12 months if you are submitting a claim to the state

These deadlines are very short. If you sued a driver for hitting you, then the statute of limitations is two years. Six months is not much time, especially for someone who is struggling to recover from serious injuries. Reach out to an experienced attorney who can represent you and ensure your notice contains all information and is filed on time.

Under OCGA § 50-21-26, you can’t sue the state until you submit this notice, so this isn’t optional. The government should investigate and decide whether to make a settlement offer.

Call Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

No one should take on the government alone. In our experience, the government might try to deny liability or offer a settlement that is much too low. Get the legal help you need by calling Lawbike Motorcycle Accident Lawyers and scheduling a free consultation. You can reach us at 1-866-529-2453 or by submitting your information online.

#Georgia Motorcycle Law #Motorcycle Wreck