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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 29
Category(s): STREETS AND HIGHWAYS
Opinion Issued February 14, 2013
SHEILA D. ANDERSON
VS.
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
(CC-12-0173)
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Andrew F. Tarr, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
     PER CURIAM:
      Claimant, Sheila D. Anderson, brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred when her 2002 Dodge Neon struck a hole while she was traveling along the 705 bypass in Morgantwon, Monongalia County. The 705 bypass 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 on June 9, 2011. Claimant testified that the weather was clear on the date of the incident and that she was traveling at approximately thirty-five miles per hour. Claimant stated that she did not notice the hole before she hit it as there was traffic in front of her. As a result, the Claimant’s vehicle sustained damage to its fog light cover in the amount of $193.87.
      The position of the Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the hole along the 705 bypass. Larry Weaver, County Administrator for Respondent in Monongalia County, testified that he received no complaints concerning a hole along the 705 bypass; however, he speculated that what Claimant actually hit was an expansion joint, which can cause smaller vehicle damage.
      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, 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 destructive capabilities of the expansion joints along the 705 bypass and that the condition could present a hazard to the traveling public. Despite Respondent’s inability to determine if there was a hole along the roadway, the Court finds that the Respondent was negligent based on its admission that it could have been caused by an expansion joint. Thus, Claimant may make a recovery for the damage to her vehicle.
      It is the opinion of the Court of Claims that Claimant should be awarded the sum of $193.87.
      Award of $193.87.
Summary:
     


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