It’s one thing when you’ve been hit by another driver and can easily identify who is liable for a car accident. But what if you’re driving along one of West Virginia’s roads and a pothole or other road hazard causes you to have an accident. You may wonder if the West Virginia Division of Highways can be liable for a car accident. Is their failure to maintain the roadways make them in some way responsible for your accident injuries and physical damages.
Inside the city of Charleston, the city’s Street Department is responsible for potholes and other road hazards. But if your accident happens outside the city on a state road, repair and maintenance is the responsibility of the West Virginia Division of Highways or DOH. This agency is part of the West Virginia Department of Transportation and is responsible for over 35,000 miles of state roads.
The first step is to identify the entity responsible for the road’s maintenance and repair. For state highways, this falls under the DOH.
To show that the DOH is responsible, the injured party will have to demonstrate that the road conditions were the cause of the accident.
To establish liability in this case, the injured party must identify a road defect and demonstrate that even a reasonably cautious driver would likely have been unable to avoid the accident. There are three general types of defects:
• Faulty design, including missing guard rails or medians, soft shoulders, sharp curves, overly steep downgrades, poor drainage, bad visibility, or other design elements that make the road hazardous
• Faulty construction or insufficient maintenance, including potholes, cracked asphalt, large dips, and other failures in structural integrity
• Failure to warn, including missing or damaged signage that would normally warn drivers of slower speeds, curves, animals, or other potential hazards
The driver is required to show that the DOH knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to take corrective action.
Filing An Initial Claim
You can file a claim with the State of West Virginia for damages that occur on a state highway. You’ll need the date, time, and location of the accident. This includes the state’s road number and any landmarks in the area. (Some information may be available by using Google Maps.)
Additionally, you’ll need to include:
• The year, make, and model of the vehicle involved and the owners of the vehicle
• Explain how the damage occurred
• Why the West Virginia Division of Highways (or other state agency) should be liable for the damages
Also required are all bills, receipts, estimates, etc. needed for reimbursement, as well as a copy of their vehicle’s declaration page, also called an insurance abstract. Mail the claim to the West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission:
900 Kanawha Blvd. E, Room W-334
Charleston, WV, 25305-0610
Claims against a government entity generally have shorter time frames for filing. If you are considering filing a claim, speak with a West Virginia car accident attorney immediately to make sure everything is done correctly and within the prescribed time frame.
Charleston, WV Car Accident Attorney Chad Love
We’ve been helping West Virginians for over 25 years with car accidents. Speak with Chad Love before you speak with anyone else about your accident.
If you’ve been involved in a Charleston, WV, car accident, contact us at The Love Law Firm, or call us at (304) 344 5683. Your consultation is free, and we only collect if we win your case.