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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 29
Opinion Issued January 17, 2013
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Andrew F. Tarr, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
      The Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred when his 2008 Dodge Avenger struck a hole while he was traveling along I-79. The Claimant is unable to determine the county in which the incident took place. I-79 is a road maintained by the Respondent. The Court is of the opinion to deny the claim for the reasons more fully stated below.
      The incident giving rise to this claim occurred at 5:15 p.m. on April 10, 2010. I-79 is a four-lane interstate highway. The Claimant testified that while driving along I-79 somewhere north of Summersville, either in Braxton or Clay County, his vehicle struck a hole near an overpass bridge. The Claimant testified that the impact caused his vehicle to vibrate and when he arrived home he realized that the vehicles tire had a large bulge and the rim was bent. The cost of repair to the Claimant’s vehicle totaled $674.48.
      The position of the Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the condition on I-79 at the time of the incident. Furthermore, the Respondent maintains that since the Claimant did not allege a more precise location of the alleged hole that the Respondent cannot adequately investigate the claim.
      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, a claimant must prove that respondent had actual or constructive notice of the defect and a reasonable time to take corrective action. Chapman v. Dep’t of Highways, 16 Ct. Cl. 103 (1986).
      In the instant case, the Court is of the opinion that the Respondent did not have notice of the alleged hole along I-79. The Claimant cannot testify as to a more precise location, except to say that it occurred north of Summersville and in either Braxton or Clay County. The Court does not expect the Respondent to be able to investigate an alleged hazard on the interstate if the Claimant cannot recall where the incident even occurred.
      In view of the foregoing, the Court is of the opinion to and does deny this claim.
      Claim disallowed.

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