Can I Sue the City for Damage to My Car?

Can I Sue the City for Damage to My Car?

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Can I Sue the City for Damage to My Car?

You're driving along, minding your own business, when suddenly, you hit a pothole. You hear a loud pop, and you know what that sound is—your tire has blown out. You begrudgingly get out of your car to assess the damage, beginning to wonder, “Can I sue the city for damage to my car?” and realizing that not only is your tire blown, but your bumper is dented from the incident. You might be able to limp to the side of the road, or maybe you’re stuck in place, but either way, you know your day just took a turn for the worse. Soon, you’ll have a very expensive repair on your plate before you get back on the road again, but not everyone can handle a cost of that caliber at a moment’s notice.

Property damage can come from anywhere at any time and instantly drop a significant expense into your life, often when you least expect it. Whether you’re a city driver or not, chances are you’ve had to deal with some sort of road damage. Potholes, cracks, negligent city vehicle operators, and more can all cause serious problems for drivers and their vehicles. In some cases, it can even lead to car accidents, causing more innocent people to suffer from a lack of care or responsibility.

The simple answer is yes—you can sue the city for damages if your car is damaged by a pothole or other poor road condition. However, it's important to understand that there are some restrictions to consider. First and foremost, you have to prove that the city was aware of the hazard and did nothing to fix it in a reasonable amount of time, otherwise known as city negligence. This can sometimes be difficult since municipalities usually have "sovereign immunity," which protects them from being sued except in very specific circumstances.

You’ll need to prove that the city breached its duty of care and that your damage directly resulted from the hazardous situation, both of which aren’t easy tasks. Filing your claim isn’t exactly straightforward either if you have no prior experience, which leaves many victims confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed by a situation that wasn’t your fault. But don’t worry. Anyone who finds themselves in this situation has a powerful legal ally in Morgan and Morgan.

With $20 billion+ recovered, decades of experience behind us, and offices from coast to coast, we’re uniquely capable of helping you file a claim against the city responsible for your property damage. Complete our free, no-risk case evaluation to get started.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • What Should I Do if a Hazardous Road Condition Damages My Vehicle?

    Most potholes and cracks won’t cause you to sustain bodily harm, but there’s always a chance that the hazard causes you to lose control and suffer further damage. In these cases, you should seek out medical attention promptly and ensure that the medical professional responsible for your care takes detailed notes of your injuries to use later in the legal process.

    Once you’ve pulled over to the side of the road and inspected the damage, you’ll have a rough idea of the condition of your vehicle. Take pictures, videos from different angles, and write down the time that the accident occurred with any other identifying information about your location. If you’re unable to leave the scene because of the damage, you should contact a repair service and ensure you’re in a safe setting while you wait for help to arrive.

    You’ll have a much better understanding of the cost of your accident once you’re handed the receipt from your repair. There are a variety of factors that will influence your expense, including your type of vehicle, the variety of paint, and, of course, the extent of the damage itself. As you know, this could be a significant cost, and if you needed a tow, the expense becomes much more cumbersome.

    Before you start to file your claim, you’ll want to revisit the hazard and try to take pictures/videos of the hazard itself, but you should exercise extreme caution. You might not be able to take this step because your incident occurred on a high-speed road or in another dangerous location. It’s not a necessary step, so seriously, don’t risk it.

  • How to File a Claim With the City?

    Filing a claim against the city can be a daunting task, but with a little preparation, it doesn't have to be a challenge. Your first step is to gather any relevant documentation, such as police reports, medical records, and eyewitness accounts, all of which will serve to strengthen your claim. Once you have all of your paperwork in order, you will need to file a notice of claim with the city clerk's office. This document outlines the nature of your claim and provides basic contact information.

    Once the notice of claim has been filed, you will need to wait for a response from the city. If they deny your claim or do not respond within 45 days, you can file a lawsuit. However, it is important to note that filing a lawsuit against the city is a complex process, and you should always consult with an attorney before moving forward.

    Additionally, even if you are able to prove that the city was at fault, you'll only be able to recover damages up to a certain amount. Most cities have what's known as a "cap" on liability, which limits the amount they will pay out in any given lawsuit. For example, New York City has a $65,000 cap on liability for personal injury claims and $10,000 for property damage claims. So, even if your repairs end up costing more than that, you won't be able to collect additional damages from the city beyond those amounts.

    There’s always a chance that your claim goes sideways, which can prevent you from recovering the full extent of your damages. This will force you to shoulder the financial burden, leaving you to pay for the entirety of the situation out-of-pocket. A sudden expense of this caliber has the potential to change your life drastically, but with the help of an attorney, you gain a powerful legal ally that knows the steps to increase your chances of success.

  • What Can I Recover if My Car Was Damaged by a Road Hazard?

    If you can prove that the city knew of the hazard and failed to repair it in a timely manner, then you can seek to recover monetary damages equivalent to the total cost of the incident. However, this will depend on many factors, and your specific recovery will depend on the extent of the damage, bodily harm, and the damage caps in your jurisdiction. If you feel that your claim doesn’t reflect the accurate value, you should seek the help of an attorney to ensure you’re able to fix the error.

    The situation gets a bit more complicated if you’re filing a lawsuit against the city. There are a lot more rules and regulations, all of which are difficult to handle if you have no prior experience. Proceeding as an individual is a risky approach because of this, so it’s recommended to retain an experienced attorney sooner rather than later to ensure you’re able to meet the necessary downloads and reach the finish line successfully.

  • How Long Do I Have to File a Claim Against the City?

    Most jurisdictions have time limits on filing claims. For example, New York gives you up to 90 days to file your claim, with anything filed afterward considered ineligible. This information will change depending on your location, so you should speak with an attorney sooner rather than later to ensure you’re able to meet the deadline.

    Proving that a city negligently exposed you to injury isn’t an easy task, but when you team up with Morgan and Morgan, it becomes much easier. We have offices across the country, decades of experience behind us, and the resources to ensure any city takes your property damage claim seriously. Not only that, but our team operates on a contingency, meaning that you pay no up-front costs, and we’re only paid if we win. There’s nothing worse than a sudden, significant expense when you least expect it, and we don’t want to further burden you with retainer fees just to help you escape paying for an accident that wasn’t your fault.

  • Contact Morgan and Morgan After an Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault

    In the most difficult moments of your life, Morgan and Morgan has your back. Damaging your car on a pothole or other hazard isn’t just frustrating—it’s expensive. Cars are only becoming more and more expensive as technological advancements change the way we get from point A to point B, which has only made any vehicle damage that much more expensive. A bent rim went from something you could fix to something you need to contact the dealer for, but why should you have to pay for the damage if the city had remedied the situation long before your accident?

    You shouldn’t, plain and simple. By filing a claim against your city, you won’t have to, but this is easier said than done. It’s often difficult to pull this off on your own, especially if the place isn’t a clear-cut case, which adds a degree of challenge to an already demanding situation. Don’t gamble with something that could cost you thousands out-of-pocket—team up with Morgan and Morgan to give yourself the best possible chance of reaching the finish line.

    Complete our free, no-obligation case evaluation to speak with our team.

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