Bringing an Injury Claim Against the State of Ohio for Car Crash Road Hazards
Though the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity prevents most claims against government entities, in Ohio, we can sue the responsible government entity for negligence in road maintenance and repair.
Whether you have been in a car accident with a government vehicle or in a crash caused by a dangerous roadway condition, you will not be able to simply file a personal injury claim for any injuries or losses you suffered. This is because most government entities and their employees are protected from most types of liability including vehicle crashes that may have been their fault.
However, Ohio, as well as most other states have enacted rules that allow for Sovereign Immunity to be waived. The state doesn’t necessarily make it easy to hold a government entity or individual responsible for injuries, though. In fact, there are strict rules that you must follow when filing a claim, and if you don’t follow them correctly, you could lose your right to file.
Car Accident Road Hazards
When you file a personal injury or property damage claim because of a road hazard, you must file an administrative claim with the agency that is responsible for the roadway. Generally, in Ohio, Interstate, US, and State routes (roads with a route number) are maintained by the Ohio Department of Transportation while streets, avenues, and boulevards with names, not route numbers, are the responsibility of the city, village, or county.
Though many times an accident isn’t quite this cut and dry, as an example, let’s say it’s the middle of winter and you’re driving on Ohio Route 7 and hit a very large, deep pothole, blowing your tire and causing you to lose control of the vehicle on the snow and ice. You sustain an injury in the accident and believe the state had to know about the pothole because the state has been plowing and salting the road every day for a week. The roadway is probably the responsibility of ODOT, so you would file your injury claim with that agency.
Your claim must include all relevant facts, witness information, the exact amount of damages you are seeking as well as supporting documentation that will allow the agency to evaluate the amount of damages.
If the agency you file the administrative claim with reject or refuses that claim, you will have six months to file your claim with the court. If you do this, you will need to prove several factors, including –
- There was a hazardous condition, and
- That hazardous condition caused an accident, and
- You were injured as a result of that accident, and
- A particular entity or entities are responsible for the roadway where the accident occurred, and
- The agency neglected to fix the hazard though they knew or should have known about the hazard, and
- Your claim is being filed within the Statute of Limitations and within six months of receiving a rejection or refusal of your claim from the agency named in the administrative claim
As you can see, Ohio has a complex system that requires you to exhaust all administrative remedies prior to turning to the court system.