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Who is liable when a sinkhole swallows a car?

While a number of our posts focus on hazards drivers encounter because of other drivers, the roads we drive on can sometimes be hazardous as well. Indeed, we are not worried about snow covered roads and black ice in July, but warped roads and sinkholes could be dangerous.

Such was the case with a car owner in downtown St. Louis.  According to a recent AP.com report, a driver believed that he found a prime parking spot for his morning workout, only to come back to find that his Toyota Camry was gone. Initially he thought that someone stole his car, but as he walked closer to where he previously parked his car he found several steel workers surrounding the site.

The man’s car had been swallowed by a sinkhole. 

Initial reports were not clear on what caused the sinkhole, but authorities speculate that an underground water main had been broken for some time. This is suspected to have caused significant erosion under the asphalt surface.

Sinkholes are unusual for this region of the country. They are much more common in the southeastern United States. Nevertheless, the story is an example of how the failure to use reasonable care could lead to tragic accidents when deteriorating roads are ignored. State and local authorities have a duty to use such care in maintaining roads, and when they fail to use such care and someone is injured as a result, the government entity could be held liable.

If you have questions about such liability after an injury, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you. 

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