Court Determines Photographs of Defect in Road Did Not Show Government’s Knowledge of the Hazard

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving allegations against a local government responsible for maintaining a section of road where the plaintiff was involved in an accident. The case explores an interesting issue for Maryland car accident victims who are considering filing a case against a local or state government agency. Specifically, the case involves the issue of whether the government entity had notice of the hazard alleged to have caused the plaintiff’s accident and subsequent injuries.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle after he lost control of his car after running over a section of broken pavement surrounding a manhole cover. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city that was in charge of maintaining that specific portion of roadway. The plaintiff did not claim that the city was negligent in constructing or repairing the damaged road; the plaintiff’s only claim was that the city was negligent in failing to fix the hazard.

One of the required elements of this type of claim is that the plaintiff must establish that the defendant had notice of the hazard. Otherwise, courts will not find that the defendant had a duty to repair the damaged road. In support of his case, the plaintiff presented photographs of the damaged road that were taken two weeks after the accident. The plaintiff argued that this showed that the government would have had knowledge of the damage.

The city filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there was no evidence suggesting it had any knowledge of the hazard. Specific to the photographs, the city argued that the photographs alone could not establish that the city was on notice about the damaged road.

The Court’s Decision

The court agreed with the city. First, the court noted that the plaintiff’s claim was not that the city was negligent in constructing the roadway. Had the plaintiff pleaded a negligent-construction theory, there would be no requirement to establish knowledge of the defect. However, given the nature of the plaintiff’s claim, the plaintiff did need to establish that the city knew or should have known of the damaged roadway.

Here, the court held, the photographs alone were insufficient to establish that the city knew or should have known about the damaged road. The court explained that the photographs only show the damage at a single moment in time, and they do not show how long the damage had been present, or how quickly the road eroded. That being the case, the photographs were not enough to meet the necessary showing, and the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. This may be the case even if the accident resulting in your injuries was a single-vehicle accident. Governments are responsible to safely construct roads, and they may be held liable for some dangerous conditions. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Permits Car Accident Case to Proceed Against Company in Charge of Maintaining Back-Up Battery System in Traffic Lights, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published November 9, 2017.

Fireman’s Rule Prevents On-Duty Police Officer from Recovering Compensation After Car Accident, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 24, 2017.

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