If you’ve been on any Long Island road lately—from Hempstead Turnpike to Old Country Road to any major highway—you probably couldn’t avoid all the potholes that now clutter the roads. And just as you may be liable for accidents on your sidewalks, state-owned roads are normally the responsibility of the state.
However, as many motorists who experienced damage due to potholes have learned, New York exempts itself from liability for pothole damage on its roads between November 15 through May 1. This covers the entire winter—when nearly all pothole damage occurs.
On top of that, AAA has recently spoken out in an article to say New York “has not taken sufficient steps to prevent road defects.” Funding for road repair is far short of what is needed, and roads are not resurfaced even close to the recommended timeframe. As a result, they point out, the average driver spends $673 annually in additional vehicle maintenance costs due to inadequate road conditions. This is in addition to the taxes we pay to maintain the roads.
Currently, Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti and State Senator Timothy Kennedy have introduced legislation to remove the liability exemption, and instead, be liable after they receive notice of the defect. The bill calls for a website where drivers could report and track potholes, making it easy to put the state on notice and for the state to respond.
In the meantime, it is important to drive slowly and carefully and on roads with excessive potholes, and avoid them if possible in a safe manner.
If your damage from potholes occurs after May 1 through to November 15, you may have a claim against the state.
If you have any questions, please feel free to give our lawyers a call at 516-222-4000 or fill out our webform and we will get back to you.