roadway hazard

Can I Pursue a Liability Claim for Injuries Caused by Roadway Defects?

Due to its rapidly changing weather, potholes and other roadway defects are an extremely common cause of accidents on Michigan roads. When you’ve been injured because of a roadway defect, you may have no choice but to sue the governmental entity responsible. 

Sovereign Immunity 

When we incur a personal injury, we wish to hold liable those who were negligent in causing the injury. In the case where a roadway defect may have caused the accident, liability may fall on the state or local governmental. That’s because the state or local government agencies are responsible for maintaining the roadway. However, holding the state or local government responsible is, unfortunately, often difficult. That’s because in a lot of cases, the government may be protected by sovereign immunity. 

Under sovereign immunity, citizens are prevented from suing government agencies that are acting within their official functions. In other words, government agencies can generally not be named as parties in a lawsuit unless they consent. However, one exception to sovereign immunity is the maintenance of public highways exception. Under this exception, the government must ensure that all roads, highways, and streets that are available to the public are maintained “in reasonable repair so that [they are] reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.” Therefore, state and local governmental units responsible for this can be held negligent if they fail to do so. 

In order for an individual to be successful in a negligence case such as this against the government agency, he or she must demonstrate that the government agency had notice of the defect but failed to correct it within a reasonable amount of time. 

Roadway Defects

When it comes to bringing a road defect claim against the government, the road only includes that part of it that cars travels upon. So, it does not include the shoulder of the road. Subsequently, these defect claims only extend to uneven surfaces, potholes, and the like that are within the white fog lines. It’s important to note that for purposes of brining a claim, poor design of a roadway cannot be considered a roadway defect. 


If you are injured by a roadway defect as described above and believe that you have a claim, it’s important to be aware that there are statutorily mandated notice requirements. An individual who is injured must first send a written notice to the governmental agency he or she believes is responsible for the part of the roadway in question. This notice must include several things:

  1. The injured individual’s name
  2. The injured individual’s injuries
  3. The specific location of the defect
  4. The nature of the defect
  5. Names of any known witnesses 

In Michigan, an individual bringing a claim must notify the governmental agency within 120 days (except where the injured person is a minor) or else forfeit any right to collect for damages. 

The Attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. Can Help

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by a poorly maintained roadway, it’s important that you contact a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. 

The Michigan personal injury attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. understand the seriousness of your injury and the physical, emotional, and financial hardships that you have endured and will continue to endure. We can help you to gather the necessary evidence and build a case to help you receive the most optimal outcome. We’ll help you fight for the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!