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Blogs, Personal Injuries Blog

Can You Sue The City For Bad Roads? A Legal Guide

Whether you’re a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian, it’s important to feel safe when navigating the roads.

However, when roads are marred by potholes, have inadequate lighting or contain confusing signs, the risk of accidents skyrockets and you can end up with severe injuries.

Can you sue a city for bad roads? That’s the question we’re here to answer.

We’ll explore scenarios in which you can hold the city liable for your injuries, cover the time frames to file a lawsuit and explain the damages you can seek.

If you were injured in a car accident, we’ll also explain how our legal team at Spar & Bernstein can help.

Looking for a car accident lawyer?

Contact our team at Spar & Bernstein!

Bradford H. Bernstein

This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.


Can You Sue The City For Bad Roads?

Yes, under certain conditions, you may be eligible to take legal action against the city or municipal government for an accident that occurred due to poor road conditions.

The process for suing a city differs from the process for suing individuals or companies.

Cities typically have sovereign immunity, which shields them from lawsuits without their consent. However, in some cases, sovereign immunity can be waived.

To win a claim against the city, you must prove the city was negligent. To do this, you must:

  • Prove that the city had a duty of care to keep its roads safe by conducting adequate maintenance and repairs and performing regular inspections.
  • Demonstrate that the city breached its duty of care by failing to address known or foreseeable road hazards. Breach of duty can include conducting inadequate repairs, neglecting potholes, ignoring reports of dangerous conditions or using substandard materials in construction.
  • Establish a direct link between the city’s breach of duty and the poor road conditions that contributed to the accident you were involved in.

You can support your case against the city with the following evidence:

  • Official reports, citizen complaints or other communication that informed the city about the hazardous conditions before your accident occurred.
  • Documents showing whether the city responded promptly and appropriately to reports or notices regarding poor road conditions. If the city was aware of the hazards and failed to take corrective action within a reasonable timeframe, it can strengthen your argument of negligence.
  • Medical records, repair bills, documentation of property damage, loss of income or other tangible losses you suffered as a result of the accident.
  • Photos and videos from the accident scene demonstrating the unsafe road conditions.

Given the intricacies of the process, it is important to work with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who has experience with cases involving government agencies.

With a proven track record in personal injury cases for 50+ years, our experienced team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein will review your case from all angles and recommend what to do next.

Explore the other parties you can hold liable for accidents due to bad road conditions in our extensive guide.

Need a personal injury lawyer?

Contact our team at Spar & Bernstein!

When Can You Sue The City For An Accident Due To Bad Roads?

From lack of road signs to poor road design, you might be eligible to sue the city in various scenarios. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Failure To Repair Potholes & Cracks

Failure to repair road cracks and potholes can cause accidents and lead to vehicle damage and increased maintenance costs for drivers.

Pedestrians and cyclists may also sustain injuries if they trip or lose control due to potholes and cracks.

Poor Road Design

Inadequate road design can contribute to collisions, rollovers or loss of control for drivers and cyclists — especially in cases when there are sharp road turns or improper grading.

Such accidents can lead to severe injuries and property damage.

Poor Construction Of Roads & Bridges

Using substandard materials in road and bridge construction can lead to structural failures, collapses and accidents.

This represents significant risks to all people on the road and may result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities.

Poor Road Signs

Inadequate or unclear road signs can confuse drivers when it comes to understanding road layouts, upcoming turns and traffic regulations, leading to wrong turns and potential accidents.

Poor Road Lighting

Insufficient road lighting poses a significant risk to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians due to reduced visibility and increased risk of collisions.

Lack Of Safe Pedestrian Crossings

Poorly designed crosswalks put pedestrians at risk of being struck by vehicles, as drivers may be unable to see them — especially at intersections and other crossing points.

Unsafe Cycling Infrastructure

Unsafe cycling infrastructure can compromise the safety of cyclists, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries on the road.

You may hold the city liable for certain cycling infrastructure issues such as inadequate separation from traffic, poorly maintained bike lanes and unclear markings or obstacles in bike lanes.

Failure To Address Known Hazards

If the city is aware of the dangerous road conditions but has not taken any measures to eliminate the problem, you may have the right to file a claim.

For example, if the city did not address recurring flooding problems in a certain area and flooding caused an accident in which you were injured, you may have grounds for legal action against the city.

A pedestrian crossing a dark road during the night​
You may have the right to sue the city if your accident was caused by potholes, poor road signs, insufficient lighting or a lack of safe pedestrian crossings ​

Is There A Time Limit For Suing The City After An Accident?

The statute of limitations, or the time frame within which you can sue the city after an accident, is typically measured from the date when the accident occurred.

The time frame can vary based on the:

  • Nature of the claim
  • Type of accident
  • Jurisdiction in which the incident occurred

Before initiating a lawsuit, you need to inform the city of your intention to sue by sending a Notice of Claim. This notice must be dispatched within a specified timeframe, outlining the nature of the claim and providing the government with an opportunity to respond.

Failure to file a Notice of Claim within the statute of limitations can result in the denial of your case.

For example, in New York, where the Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein represent victims of motor vehicle accidents, a Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days from the date of the accident.

A lawsuit against the City of New York must be initiated within one year and 90 days from the date of the accident. This time limit is notably shorter compared to the three-year window applicable for personal injury claims against private citizens or corporations in New York.

If you have grounds to sue the city, our tenacious legal team at Spar & Bernstein will make sure all your documents are filed within the allotted time frame.

Need a personal injury lawyer?

Contact our team at Spar & Bernstein!

What Damages Can You Seek From The City After An Accident Due To Poor Roads?

If you were injured in an accident that occurred a due to unsafe road conditions, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for:

  • Current and future medical expenses, such as surgeries, medication, hospital stays, rehabilitation costs and therapy
  • Lost income for the time you needed to take off work during your recovery
  • Pain and suffering for physical pain, emotional distress and diminished quality of life due to your injuries
  • Loss of consortium for the negative impact your injuries had on your spousal relationship
  • Home modification and aiding device costs for the purchase of assistive devices and modifications to living spaces after your injuries
  • Wrongful death for funeral expenses and loss of financial support if the accident resulted in the fatal outcome of a loved one
A client with an injured hand at a lawyer's office​
If you have a case against the city, you can seek damages for medical costs, lost income, loss of consortium, pain and suffering​

Were You Injured In An Accident Due To Bad Road Conditions? Contact Spar & Bernstein

At Spar & Bernstein, we understand the challenges you are facing in a case against the city and our team is here to provide the support and advocacy you need to reclaim your life.

Offering a compassionate approach that recognizes the personal toll that a car accident can take on your life, our tenacious legal team will navigate the complexities of suing the city to help you claim the compensation you deserve.

We leave no detail unexamined. Our meticulous approach involves a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding your accident.

We will gather evidence of the city’s negligence to determine fault, collaborate with experts to establish the worth of your case and build a strong case that maximizes your chances of a favorable outcome.

Suing the city for unsafe roads goes beyond your individual story — by seeking justice, you are fighting for the safety of all city residents.

Do you have a case against the city?

Schedule a consultation