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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 29
Category(s): STREETS AND HIGHWAYS
Opinion Issued January 10, 2012
TERRI ANE’ BERKLEY
VS.
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
(CC-11-0258)
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Travis E. Ellison, III, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
     PER CURIAM:
      Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage, which occurred while she was driving her 2003 Lexus ES 300. Claimant’s vehicle was traveling east on Raven Drive and collided with a vehicle traveling south on Davidson Avenue. Claimant alleges that there was no stop sign at what was intended to be a two way stop intersection, and that this omission caused the two vehicles to collide. The incident took place in the City of Rand, Kanawha County. This intersection is on a heavily traveled 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 6:00 p.m. on February 24, 2011. The intersection is a two-lane paved roadway. Claimant testified that it had been raining on the day in question; however, she was still able to see clearly and followed all traffic laws to the best of her knowledge. Claimant stated that as she approached the intersection she did not see a stop sign; therefore, she proceeded through the intersection. As a result of her actions a collision occurred and the Claimant’s vehicle sustained damage to its front bumper in the amount of $1,138.26. Claimant’s vehicle had insurance, which requires a $500.00 deduction; therefore, any award to Claimant is limited to the amount of the deduction.
      The position of the Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice that the sign was not properly in place. Respondent’s witness testified that he received the initial report of a missing stop sign at approximately 8:00 p.m. on the evening of the incident.
      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 missing stop sign. Given the risk created without a stop sign at an intersection on a heavily traveled road the Claimant should 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 $500.00.
      Award of $500.00.
Summary:
     


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