Potholes are a plague on the streets of New Orleans that residents are all too familiar with. It is almost impossible to travel the city streets without encountering one of these hazards. Between January 2019 and May 2021, New Orleans citizens submitted almost 6,000 requests for potholes to be serviced. Driving over a pothole can cause serious damage to your vehicle or your body. Car repairs can be costly. Additionally, personal injuries that may arise from your pothole encounter may force you to miss work making it even more difficult to pay for these damages. Encounters with potholes will often leave victims searching for the responsible party that should be held accountable for causing these damages.
Locating the party responsible can be a difficult task. Depending on the road, there could be a number of agencies that are responsible for the detection and maintenance of potholes such as parish, state, or federal government agencies. Additionally, these agencies can split different responsibilities relating to the street defect. One agency may be responsible for tracking potholes, another may be responsible for marking the pothole with safety cones or tape, and another may be tasked with keeping the pothole free from water and debris. The New Orleans Inspector General reports that approximately 34 percent of pothole complaints that are submitted to the city are referred to other agencies. The law grants these agencies a reasonable amount of time to discover and remedy defects in the roads that they are responsible for. However, as many residents of New Orleans have unfortunately come to realize, these potholes often will be left unremedied for months or years often causing the residents to protect themselves.
Even if the injured party is able to locate the property defendant, it can be difficult to hold the government agency responsible for their inaction. Many of these agencies are immune from being sued for lawsuits that assert personal injury or property damages against them. This is based on the theory of state sovereign immunity. This theory effectively protects state governments from being sued by victims of the state’s negligent actions or inaction. If the plaintiff is able to breach the shield of sovereign immunity, Louisiana law asserts further restrictions on your lawsuit including where it may be filed and how much money you may recover. Damages awarded from lawsuits against a government agency in Louisiana are limited to $500,000. The damages awarded will not be given directly to the plaintiff. Instead, the damages are placed in a revisionary trust that will determine how and when this money can be used by the victim.
Damages from a pothole may not arise from the street’s conditions alone. A driver may suffer property damage or personal injury from a collision with another driver who is attempting to avoid these hazards. If you are hit by another driver because of the other driver’s evasive measures to avoid a pothole, you have the right to sue the at-fault driver for your injuries. Louisiana Drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care. This duty may be breached when they put other drivers at risk in their attempts to avoid hazardous road conditions. In this situation, you may have a claim for negligence against the other driver.
An injured plaintiff will only have so much time to file their lawsuit for the injuries they have sustained from a pothole. Louisiana law mandates that the injured party only has one year from the date of injury to file their suit before it is lost. However, other deadlines may be imposed when a government agency is named as the defendant in a suit.
Therefore, it is crucial to contact an experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney if you believe that you have a claim for damages or injuries that arise from an encounter with a pothole. The attorneys at Scott Vicknair are qualified to help you safely navigate the road to recovery and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve – call our personal injury attorneys at 504-500-1111 for a free consultation today!