Auto Insurance claims arising from highway defects

States may be placed in three groups with reference to claims arising from highway defects:

GROUP I
Progressive States Which Have Waived Their Sovereign Immunity and Permit the Filing of Claims Resulting from Highway Defects

Illinois
New York
Kansas
North Carolina
Oregon (limited to $500)
Kentucky (limited to $5,000)
Tennessee 

GROUP II
States Which Do Not Consent To Be Sued but Invite Petitions to the Legislature, or Have Boards or Officials Who Make Recommendations to the Legislature

Alabama
Arkansas
Connecticut
Florida
Georgia
Idaho
Iowa
Louisiana Maine
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Mississippi
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire New Jersey North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Rhode Island South Dakota Texas Utah Virginia West Virginia Wisconsin

Politics, sympathy or legislative mood, rather than legal right, may be the basis for legislative approval.

GROUP III
Other States Which Use the Shield of Sovereign Immunity (The King Can Do No Wrong)

Arizona
California
Colorado
Delaware
Indiana
Maryland Michigan* Missouri New Mexico
Pennsylvania Vermont Washington Wyoming

Many of the states in Groups II and III seem to be behind the times. Before long they may recognize the rule that there should not be a wrong without a remedy.

The Congress has pointed the way to the states by passing the Federal Tort Claims Act. In that law the United States has waived its sovereign immunity and made itself subject to suit “in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual.”

Time limits can be dangerously short. In some states, you have to file a claim within ninety days, in other states within one year, in other states within two years, and in other states within five
* Michigan is one of the few states which has a court of claims. However, it does not recognize suits based on defective condition of highways. 

years. The rules are technical and the legal roads you have to travel are tricky. Without the slightest doubt, the filing of a claim against a state is a problem for a lawyer.

Claims against counties, cities, towns and villages. Most states are more generous in permitting the filing of claims against counties, cities, towns, villages and other “governmental sudivisions.” Those states allow suits to be filed in ordinary courts- courts which are called “courts of general jurisdiction/’ But, again, the matter of time limits is tricky. The time to bring suit or file a notice of claim may vary from fourteen days to six years. Don’t take a chance—see a lawyer as quickly as possible.

Highway contractor. If you were injured by reason of negligence in the construction or the repair of a road, against whom would you make your claim—the highway authorities or the contractor?
The answer is that you may have the right to make your claim against either. But as a practical proposition you may get further faster by filing your claim against the contractor.

The contractor generally has insurance to take care of his legal liability. Most contracts with the state require that the contractor carry insurance to protect the traveling public and the state.

The contractor engaged in constructing or repairing a highway must use care to keep the highway safe for travel.


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