When it comes to road-related hazards, potholes rank among the top of the list of the most dangerous for motorcyclists. Even small potholes can cause riders to be thrown from their bikes or completely lose control of them.
The damages related to pothole accidents can be significant, especially for motorcyclists. They often suffer severe injuries that require expensive medical treatments, and they may be too hurt to go back to work for a long time, if ever. That means no paychecks while their medical bills continue to pile up.
Because local governments are often the parties responsible for maintaining roads, many injured riders wonder if they can sue them after crashes caused by dangerous road conditions, including potholes.
You Typically Can’t Sue the Government in Oklahoma for Pothole-Related Damages
In most cases, you can’t sue the state of Oklahoma or your local municipality for pothole-related damages if one causes you to wreck on your motorcycle. That’s because governments have sovereign immunity, which means they can’t be sued the same way businesses and individuals can after accidents and injuries.
However, the Governmental Tort Claims Act does allow citizens to sue the government in certain instances that sovereign immunity would otherwise prevent. The Act does NOT include exceptions for the maintenance of the state highway system and pothole-related damages.
However, if the injured party can prove that the state either failed to warn of the unsafe condition or the loss/damages were directly due to the state’s negligence, then they may still have a claim and an option to sue.
That means it is possible to sue the government responsible for the road after a pothole-related accident, but it often requires significant evidence of the state or local government’s negligence, which isn’t easy to prove.
You Can File a Direct Claim to the State or Your Local Municipality
Although you typically can’t sue the state of Oklahoma or another smaller governmental body in the state, you may be able to file an injury or property damage claim against them directly.
The Oklahoma Office of Management & Enterprise Services has a website that includes forms the public can fill out for:
- Bodily Injuries
- Non-Property & Non-Bodily Injuries
- Property Damage Claims
These forms can be filled out and submitted for potential reimbursement for things like medical bills and property damage to your motorcycle. Note that these forms must be filled out completely and submitted, along with all required supporting documentation and evidence, within one year of the pothole-related accident occurring.
You can also check your city’s website to find options for filing pothole damage claims.
You May Be Able to Sue a Contractor or Private Company
Some roads in Oklahoma aren’t maintained or serviced by the state or local government. Instead, they are managed by neighborhoods, small unincorporated communities, or private businesses. When these roads develop potholes that result in serious accidents and injuries, they or the companies hired to maintain them may be held responsible and can be sued for damages.
Common examples of roads that aren’t maintained or serviced by the government include roads in private neighborhoods, roads on private residential property, and roads on commercial property (i.e., roads in a large shopping complex). If it can be determined that those roads either weren’t built properly or weren’t repaired promptly and correctly, injured riders may be able to pursue successful claims against the at-fault parties.
Contact Parrish DeVaughn After a Pothole-Related Accident or Injury
Potholes are often minor nuisances for people in cars, trucks, and SUVs, but they can be deadly hazards for people traveling on motorcycles. When potholes form and aren’t addressed in a timely manner, the parties responsible for the roads they’re on should be held liable for any resulting injuries.
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, it’s our goal to help injured riders get full compensation after all types of crashes, including those caused by dangerous roads. Contact our Oklahoma motorcycle accident lawyers today for a free consultation if you or someone you love was injured in a pothole-related crash. We’ll determine if you are eligible for compensation and work hard to get you the money you deserve.