OPINION ISSUED APRIL 11, 1991
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant represents self.
James D. Terry, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
On October 1, 1990, claimant was operating her 1983 Oldsmobile Delta 88 on Route 14 in
Parkersburg, Wood County. While crossing the Fifth Street Bridge, claimant's vehicle struck a hole
on the right side of the lane causing damage to both tires on the right side of her vehicle. Claimant
brought this claim in the amount of $558.09 to recover for the damages to the tires, a wheel, and a
Claimant testified that her vehicle struck a hole located about six inches from the curb on the Fifth
Street Bridge. There was other traffic on the bridge. She observed a crew performing maintenance
on the ramp to the bridge which she assumed were respondent's employees. She was driving at
approximately thirty-five miles per hour when her vehicle struck the hole and both tires on the right
side of her vehicle went flat. The incident occurred at around 11:00 a.m. she saw the hole just prior
to driving into it. After her accident, she obtained Notice of Claim Forms and took the same to her
insurance agent's office where an individual completed the forms, she signed the forms, and then
took them to the "State Road Commission" whereupon the forms were mailed to the Court of Claims
for filing. Although claimant's testimony revealed that the incident occurred on Route 14, her Notice
of Claim forms indicated that the incident occurred on Route 95.
Respondent's investigation of the claim was based upon the statement in claimant's Notice of Claim
forms which indicated that the accident had occurred on Route 35. Respondent was therefore not
prepared to defend this claim for alleged defects on Route 14. However, Paul F. Reese, respondent's
maintenance superintendent for Wood County, testified that the maintenance garage is not far from
the area where claimant had her accident. It was an area with heavy traffic, and he keeps a close
watch on the area for problems. He indicated that the curb may have been broken in several places,
but the road surface was properly maintained. The travel lanes in the area of claimant's accident are
the average width.
The Court, having reviewed the record in this claim is constrained to find that negligence on the part
of the respondent was not established by the claimant. It is incumbent upon the knowledge of the
hazard upon which the claim is based. As claimant failed to established such notice, the Court is
unable to find that respondent was negligent.
Therefore, the Court is of the opinion to and must deny this claim.