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What Can I Do When I Was Injured in an Accident Caused by a Pothole?

Car Accident Pot Holes

Potholes are a hazardous road condition. Drivers, motorcycle riders, and bicyclists frequently lose control of their vehicles when they hit a pothole. Loss of control can cause the driver or rider to steer into the path of an oncoming vehicle and suffer serious accident injuries.

Pedestrians who trip while stepping into a pothole can break ankles, hips, and other bones in a fall. Falls from bicycles and motorcycles sometimes cause brain damage, disfigurement, fractures, and other injuries.

If you are injured in an accident caused by a pothole, you may be entitled to compensation. To protect your rights, however, you need to take important steps.

Get Medical Attention After an Accident Caused by a Pothole

Seeking immediate medical attention is important for a few reasons. First, if you struck your head in a fall, you should never assume that you just “got your bell rung.” Concussions can cause hidden injuries, including bleeding and swelling of the brain. The failure to obtain an immediate evaluation and treatment can be fatal.

Prompt medical attention also promotes faster healing. Trying to “tough it out” can cause injuries to worsen. Delaying treatment may turn a treatable injury into a permanent disability.

Finally, compensation is driven in large part by the injury victim’s medical records. If you delay seeing a doctor, an insurance adjuster is likely to argue that you were not injured in the accident and that your eventual medical care must have been prompted by some other accident.

A failure to follow through with recommended medical care will also make it difficult to settle your claim for its full value. If you become frustrated and discontinue treatment, the insurance adjuster (and probably the doctor) will assume that your injury healed and that you had no continuing pain. Following your doctor’s advice creates medical records that will support your claim to full compensation for your injury.

Preserve the Evidence After an Accident Caused by a Pothole

Bringing a successful claim for compensation requires proof that someone was negligent. In pothole cases, that proof consists in part of the evidence that the pothole existed and that it caused the accident.

Taking a picture of the pothole is critical. Even if the photo is taken with a smartphone camera app, the picture will help. If you contact a traffic accident attorney right away, the attorney can arrange to have better pictures taken.

If the accident damaged the wheel or frame of a bicycle or motorcycle, don’t have the damage repaired until you talk to a lawyer. Your lawyer may want to use the bicycle or motorcycle to prove how the accident happened.

If witnesses saw the accident, get their names and contact information. Share that with your lawyer right away so that witness interviews can be conducted while memories are still fresh.

Ask Your Lawyer to Serve a Notice of Claim After an Accident Caused by a Pothole

It is important to understand that the law imposes strict time limits for serving a notice of claim upon the government. When a negligence claim is based on the failure to repair a pothole, the notice must be served on the unit of government — the municipality, county, or state — that was responsible for maintaining the road.

A notice must usually be served on the state or county within 12 months of the accident. A notice must usually be served on a city within 6 months. However, determining whether a city, county, or state is responsible for road maintenance can be difficult.

Failing to serve the notice on time or to include all of the required information can be a trap for the unwary. An experienced auto accident lawyer can make sure that your rights are fully protected by serving the notice as required by law.