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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 29
Opinion Issued February 14, 2013
     Claimants appeared pro se.
     Michael J. Folio, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
      Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred when his 1997 Lincoln Town Car struck a construction barrel while he was traveling along Interstate 64 in Huntington, Cabell County. Interstate 64 is a public road maintained by Respondent. The Court is of the opinion to make an award in this claim for the reasons more fully stated below.
      The incident giving rise to this claim occurred at approximately 12:40 a.m. on August 19, 2010. Claimant was traveling westbound in the right lane, because the left lane was undergoing construction by Respondent. Respondent had placed construction barrels between the two lanes in order to create a barrier. However, Claimant maintains that Respondent placed at least one barrel too far in the right lane. As a result, the Claimant’s vehicle made contact with a barrel and damaged his driver side mirror, which required repair in the amount of $214.12. Claimant had liability insurance only. The position of the Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the location of the barrel along Interstate 64.
      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 the Respondent liable for road defects of this type, the Claimant must prove that the 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 barrel which Claimant’s vehicle struck and that the condition presented a hazard to the traveling public. Since the barrel was placed at a location that impeded the travel portion of the roadway, the Court finds that Respondent was negligent. Thus, Claimant may make a recovery for the damage to his vehicle.
      It is the opinion of the Court of Claims that Claimant should be awarded the sum of $214.12.
      Award of $214.12.

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