CHARLES JUNG Special to the Standard
An unusually icy winter combined with a series of thaws means potholes appear faster and earlier than expected.
Appearing, as if by magic, the dreaded pothole is the nasty surprise winter leaves behind.
While hitting a pothole can damage tires, wheels, and suspension the damage can be much more severe, including injury and, in some cases, death. Potholes also present a much bigger danger for motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists.
If you have been injured or your vehicle has been damaged by a pothole, the local road authority may be on the hook to pay. Ontario’s provincial Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and local municipalities have a duty to keep the roads, under their jurisdiction, in a reasonable state of repair, and have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to keep their roads free of hazardous conditions.
The regulation in the Municipal Act (Minimum Maintenance Standards Regulation), designed to restrict claims against municipalities, deems a pothole on municipal roads to be in repair if it is less than 8 cm deep and 1000 cm2 in surface area, on a city street, carrying over 10,000 vehicles a day.
The legal duty of MTO and municipalities does not mean they must always keep roads in perfect condition; that would be impossible. However, employees responsible for maintaining roadways have time lines they must meet, to avoid legal liability. The time lines demand the busiest roads, with the highest posted speed limits, be treated with priority.
If the MTO or a municipality fails to maintain a road within the expected time line, and someone is injured in a crash or a vehicle is seriously damaged due to bad road conditions, the courts sometimes hold the MTO or the municipality liable. In many cases, a driver can make a claim against a municipality’s insurance for vehicle damage caused by a pothole.
If you see a pothole, you should report it when it is safe to do so. If your vehicle is damaged, or you are injured by a pothole, you will need to, safely, take pictures and measurements. With pothole damage or injury, you must file a claim within 10 days of the incident.
Charles Jung is a lawyer with Oatley Vigmond - personal injury law firm, www.oatleyvigmond.com
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