Even more than robins, rain showers, and flowers, potholes are considered one of the hallmarks of early spring. Dangerous holes and craters start showing in the roads everywhere you go, and accidents and injuries to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians follow. If you've been the victim of a pothole-related injury, you may be able to recover damages against the owner of the property, but the laws are often complicated and difficult to follow. Here's what you should know.

Pothole Injuries Can Happen Many Different Ways

Running into a pothole can cause severe damage to a car's suspension, tires, rims, and undercarriage. Drivers can also end up running off the road or crossing into other lanes as they try to swerve around especially wide or deep potholes. Motorcycles and bicycles encounter similar dangers surrounding potholes.

However, people also get damaged in pothole-related accidents. That damage to your vehicle can also lead to damage to your body, as you're jolted around inside your car or on your bike. Back injuries and neck injuries are commonly associated with being jolted around in a vehicle. 

Pedestrians and people in motorized wheelchairs and carts are also easy victims of potholes. Even a small hole in a store parking lot can cause someone to trip and break an ankle, or a motorized shopping cart to lose balance and topple over on a helpless driver.

Premise Liability Determines Responsibility 

Generally speaking, pothole lawsuits are about premise liability. Premise liability is basically the idea that whoever owns a piece of property has some responsibility to make the area safe for those who come into contact with it. How much responsibility a property owner has depends on numerous factors, but the owners of roads and parking lots are supposed to make a reasonable effort to keep them safe for public use.

Lawsuits for pothole damage are easier to file against private property owners than they are against government entities, because laws are often in place that give government entities a certain amount of immunity against claims. Many jurisdictions have short statute of limitations on pothole related claims as well, so that's an important factor to keep in mind in the event of an accident, especially if it was on a public road.

Take Steps To Help Yourself If You Might Have A Claim

If you've been injured in a pothole-related accident, take measures to help yourself, just in case you end up needing to file a lawsuit. 

  • Call the police to report the accident. This helps create a record of the event.
  • Have your injuries evaluated at a hospital.
  • Realize that you may have injuries to your back or neck that might not manifest for a few days. If you start to feel pain, seek medical attention without delay. 
  • Take photos of damage to your vehicle, if any.
  • Take photos of any physical injuries that you have, including scrapes and bruises.
  • Make sure that you report the pothole to the owner of the property (whether private or governmental).
  • Take photos of the pothole from different angles, especially if it is difficult to see from the direction of your approach. Remember that potholes can get rapidly worse, so don't delay in taking the photos!
  • Make sure that you keep records of repair costs and medical bills.

If you've been injured because of a pothole, consider consulting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, especially if it involves a public roadway. Your attorney, one like Law Office of Leslie S. Shaw, can help you understand any complications with your claim due to the laws in your area, and help you navigate through any difficult areas in order to successfully resolve your claim.