"Chuck" it up to Pot Luck

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"Chuck" it up to Pot Luck

Postby s f b » Tue Nov 19, 2002 8:46 am

My eldest was MIA for a good half-day and arrived from Florida a few hours ago.

In NY, on I-95, there seem to be chuck-holes large enough to swallow a mini-car. Chris hit one of those chuck/pot-holes yesterday, blew out one tire, totally destroying one rim and damaging another. He remained in the breakdown lane for 4 hours before a towtruck arrived. They replaced the rim and tire with the minimum to get him going again and the bill came to $400.00.

$400.00 for a tow, tire, and rim. More like a gouging snowjob than a tow-job. Suppose he licks his wallet wounds and chalks this one up to experience and then I provide a AAA membership a nice after-the-fact X-mas gift as soothing salve toward the annointing into an adult world.

But the reason of this writing, Alan, is not to cry over spilled milk, rather to explore the state's responsibility towards damages caused by roads in a sad shape of disrepair. Can a state be held liable for costs incurred due to damage caused by roads which seem to be in dire need of fixing?

A few years ago, in the Commonwealth, I came close to flipping my Explorer on 95 just north of Foxboro when I hit a chuck-hole in the high-speed lane that caused the front end to vibrate badly while I wrestled with the steering wheel with white knuckles to bring the vehicle under control again with no damage other than a few thrown wheel weights and a sprung alignment.

So many SUV rollovers I read and hear about on the news reminds me of, and makes me wonder if a decent percentage of those rollovers are not caused by the vehicle being unsafe, rather caused by the state's highways being unbsafe.

Again, Alan, what are the state's and the states' responsibilities toward damage, injuries, and even death caused by neglectful road maintenance??? :?:
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Chuck it up to Pot luck

Postby Alan K » Tue Nov 19, 2002 2:56 pm

The answer to your question is that in most states, including Massachusetts, there is liability for damage caused by negligent maintenance of the roads or failure to repair road defects which are dangerous and cause damage.

The difficulty is establishing the neglicence factor.

Was the defect there for a time, which if in the normal patrolling of the highway section, the defect was reported and not acted upon in a reasonable time.

If not reported, the burden of proof is on the claimant.

The evidence issue is the killer here. I can remember in years past, a whole section of !-95 in CT swollowed cars and trucks.

I would suggest that you send out a claim with copies of receipts.

You may be able to get the information necessary to file a claim from the internet. Most states, I am sure you are aware, have web sites with menus.

Good luck,

Alan K
"The Goddess of Justice is Blind"
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Postby Deep Sea » Fri Dec 27, 2002 12:20 am

Thanks Alan.

Here's a little feedback in the issue. BTW, thanks for the help. At least Chris is a little wiser for it.

Chris called the City of New York. They informed him that he had to go back there in person with his damaged vehicle, and then show the pothole and the damage to his car to a witness. I believe the witnes had to be an officer.

I said to Chris that they had him over a barrel. First, it's going to cost him money and time [which is also money] to go there. He'd be lucky if they didn't fill the hole by the time he got there, the chances of getting a run-around by the city are really high in hopes he'll just fade away.

I told Chris to cut his losses as they stood and move forward from here; to forget it because it could ultimately cost him more than what he could receive if anything.
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Postby Alan K » Fri Dec 27, 2002 9:21 pm

Hi Allen:

Since our last discussion about pot holes and liability, we had some serious cases of road maintenance and repair issues in Ashland, Massachusetts.

Route 126 is a Massachusetts Highway and runs through Framingham, Ashland, Holliston (my town) and many others.

A contractor was hired to rip up the road and install sewer connections from Ashland to Framingham on Route 126 on a heavily congested area with businesses and two small shopping malls.

Business owner's raged and complained, and hired a lawyer, because the contractor blocked business entrances, tied up one half of the two lane highway and ran traffic in alternate phases of north and south travel.

The matter came to a head one stormy Saturday evening in a rain storm, when car #1, crashed into a large pot hole on the side of the road guided there by a misplaced barrell.

This was a small car with skinny sidewall of the modern genre. In any event I was directly behind this car and managed to go around it.

I was driving my 3 ton caddy limo which had no problem with navigating the tank trail of a road. The driver was not injured and I proceeded on to a restaurant in the shopping plaza.

About one and one half hours later, the small car was still there (no. 1 in the ditch) and about ten others were also crippled, with local police on the scene.

Local news paper had printed a report on this case with the owner of the first car stating that he had four blown tires and bashed in alloy rims at a cost of $1,200.00.

The town blew him away saying its not their fault, and the contractor denied liability claiming someone moved the barrell.

About a week later my brakes failed, and I went to my mechanic who had done a major brake job on my car, and the brakes had been excellent.

He asked me If I had run over something, since two breaklines had to be replaced caused by contact damage.

Litigation is expensive and the burden of proof is sometimes difficult to attain and to show that officials should have known and reported the incident. How long did the defect exist? Who had the responsibility.

In most cases towns or the state or both may be responsible, and if voluntary re-imbursement is out of the question, it is often very expensive to litigate.

In my own case, the brakes didn't fail for a couple of weeks, and I would have to prove my case. It was cheaper to pay a couple of hundred for new lines!

I do know that some larger cities have good systems for analyizng claims and have methods of follow up, and procedure.

Alan K
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