Is the State Liable for Defective Road Maintenance?

April 12, 2017 | By Polito & Harrington LLC
Is the State Liable for Defective Road Maintenance?

Not all car accidents are the result of driver negligence. Sometimes there is a defect in one of the vehicles that causes the driver to lose control. And sometimes there is a defect in the road itself.

CT Court Rejects State's Attempt to Quash Accident Case

Since the State of Connecticut maintains most public roads, you may be wondering, “Can I sue the state if an improperly maintained road caused my car accident?” The answer is yes, but there are certain procedures that must be followed. For instance, before filing a personal injury claim a victim must first notify the Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation within 90 days of the accident. The notice must contain a “general description” of the accident, including the cause, time, and “place of its occurrence.” This notice requirement is not a minor detail. If a plaintiff fails to give the notice, or it is substantially defective in any way, a court is required to dismiss the case. The state knows this and may try to exploit any perceived defect to its advantage. That does not mean the state always succeeds. Recently the Appellate Court of Connecticut rejected the state's efforts to prematurely dismiss a car accident lawsuit from Stamford. The state argued, unsuccessfully, that the plaintiff's notice was not “specific” enough in describing the location of his accident. According to the plaintiff's lawsuit, he was involved in a multi-car accident on East Main Street in Stamford in 2012. Another car allegedly struck a loose manhole cover, which caused that vehicle to collide with the plaintiff's car. The plaintiff alleges the state's negligence in failing to properly secure the manhole caused the accident. The plaintiff notified the state prior to filing his claim. But the state argued the notice was defective because it did not identify the specific manhole that was loose. (There were four manholes at the intersection.) The plaintiff pointed to a copy of the official police accident report, attached to the notice, which contained a diagram of the scene. The courts held this was sufficient to comply with the law. The Appellate Court explained the notice requirement is not “a means of placing difficulties in the path of an injured person.” Rather, it is supposed to give the commissioner enough information to investigate an accident where the state may be liable for damages.

Do You Need Help From a Waterford Personal Injury Lawyer?

Even if you are in a car accident where the state is not a party, it is always a good idea to get a copy of the written police accident report. This may provide valuable evidence in a subsequent personal injury case. You should also a qualified Waterford-New London car accident attorney who can advise you on your next steps. Contact Polito & Harrington, LLC to schedule a consultation