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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 29
Opinion Issued January 10, 2012
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Travis E. Ellison III, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
      Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred while she was driving her 1998 Chevrolet Malibu. Claimant’s vehicle struck two large holes while traveling along Old W. Va. Route 250 near Farmington, Marion County. Old W. Va. Route 250 is a public road maintained by Respondent. The Court believes that Claimant should receive an award in this claim for reasons more fully stated below.
      The incident giving rise to this claim occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. on May 12, 2011. Old W. Va. Route 250 is a two-lane road with painted white edge lines and a center line. Claimant testified that the weather was clear on the day in question. The incident occurred as she was driving to visit her daughter. The holes were located in the main travel portion of the road. Claimant stated that the holes had to have been very large because she noticed paint from her vehicle along the perimeter of the hole. As a result, the Claimant’s vehicle sustained damage to its tires and wheels in the amount of $508.43. Claimant carries liability insurance on her vehicle.
      The position of the Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice that there were two large holes and that they posed a risk to the public.
      The well-established principle of law in West Virginia is that the State is neither an insurer nor a guarantor of the safety of travelers upon its roads. Adkins v. Sims, 130 W.Va. 645, 46 S.E.2d 81 (1947). In order to hold Respondent liable for road defects of this type, Claimant must prove that Respondent had actual or constructive notice of the defect and a reasonable amount of time to take corrective action. Pritt v. Dep’t of Highways, 16 Ct. Cl. 8 (1985); Chapman v. Dep’t of Highways, 16 Ct. Cl. 103 (1986).
      In the instant case, the Court is of the opinion that Respondent had, at the least, constructive notice of the two holes. The size of the holes and the location on the travel portion of the road leads the Court to conclude that Respondent was negligent. Thus, Claimant may make a recovery for the damage to her vehicle.
      It is the opinion of the Court of Claims that the Claimant should be awarded the sum of $508.43.
      Award of $508.43.

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