OPINION ISSUED JANUARY 28, 2000
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared pro se.
Xueyan Zhang, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred
when her vehicle went off the edge of the road on County Route 24,
Chestnut Ridge Road, in Barbour County. County Route 24 is a road
maintained by respondent in Barbour County. The Court is of the
opinion to make an award in this claim for the reasons more fully
The incident giving rise to this claim occurred on July 3,
1999, at approximately 5:00 p.m. On the clear evening in question,
claimant was returning from a trip to a store in her 1990 Lincoln
Town Car. Claimant's vehicle was proceeding from Philippi to
Chestnut Ridge Road near the Badger mines on County Route 24.
County Route 24, which is about two miles from the Philippi city
limits, is a sixteen foot secondary road with a double-yellow
centerline. There are no edge lines. Each lane of County Route 24
is about seven to eight feet wide. There is no berm on County
Route 24 at the scene of claimant's accident. There is a guardrail
adjacent to the road with a space from the edge of the road to the
guardrail. According to claimant, County Route 24 is not wide
enough for two vehicle traffic.
As claimant drove her usual route to her residence, she came
to what could be termed an "S"shaped up hill curve on the road.
Since claimant had experienced problems in the past, she maneuvered
her vehicle at a speed of approximately ten miles per hour to avoid
any further problems. Claimant was then confronted by an oncoming
vehicle. In order to pass the oncoming vehicle, she drove to the
right side of her lane whereupon her vehicle went off the paved
portion of the road. This situation caused claimant's vehicle to
roll into the guardrail. Afterwards, claimant exited the vehicle,
went to her brother-in-law's and telephoned her husband for
assistance. The following day, claimant went back and photographed
the area in question. Claimant's vehicle sustained damage in the
amount of $3,091.24. Since claimant's vehicle was insured only
under a liability policy, there was no insurance coverage for this
The position of respondent was that it did not have notice
regarding the defective condition on the edge of the road on County
Route 24. Respondent's search of its daily records did not reveal
any prior complaints. County Route 24 is patrolled on a weekly
basis for irregularities in the pavement. However, respondent's County Highway Administrator for Barbour County, Carl W. Dickenson,
Jr., stated that the road appeared to be unstable and had to be
In this claim, the Court is of the opinion that the edge of
the road on County Route 24, Chestnut Ridge Road, at the location
of claimant's incident, was not maintained properly by respondent
and created a hazard to the traveling public. The photographic
evidence presented by claimant established that the edge of the
road had broken away where claimant's incident occurred. As
claimant approached the oncoming vehicle on the narrow road, she
carefully attempted to maneuver her vehicle toward the edge of the
road. Due to deterioration, there was no road surface to support
her vehicle. This condition on County Route 24 constituted
negligence on the part of respondent for which the claimant may
recover for the damages to her vehicle.
However, the Court is of the further opinion that the
estimates submitted by claimant as proof of the damages to her
vehicle are suspect and appear to be inflated. The Court has
reviewed the invoices and has determined that a 30 percent
reduction is fair and reasonable; therefore, the Court reduces the
award to the amount of $2,163.87.
In view of the foregoing, the Court is of the opinion to and
does make an award to claimant in the amount of $2,163.87.
Award of $2,163.87.