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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 29
Opinion Issued February 14, 2013
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Andrew F. Tarr, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
      Claimant, Peggy J. Mayle, brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred when her 2001 Ford Expedition struck loose gravel and she lost control while traveling along Georgetown Road in Roanoke, Lewis County. Georgetown Road 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 10:05 a.m. on March 31, 2012. Claimant testified that she was driving from her home on Georgetown Road when she met an oncoming vehicle traveling in the center of the roadway which caused her to veer to the edge of the roadway. While making the maneuver, Claimant’s vehicle struck loose gravel along the roadway which caused the vehicle to spin out of control and strike an embankment. As a result of its contact with the embankment, Claimant’s vehicle sustained a total loss. Claimant carried only liability insurance at the time of the incident.
      The position of Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the loose gravel along Georgetown Road on the date of the incident.
      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 loose gravel which caused Claimant’s vehicle to lose control and strike an embankment and that the loose gravel presented a hazard to the traveling public. The Court finds that Respondent was aware of the frequency with which gravel in this area became washed out onto the roadway. Thus, Claimant may make a recovery for the damage to her vehicle. The Court took notice of the NADA guideline value of Claimant’s vehicle and set a fair and reasonable price totaling $7,737.00.
      It is the opinion of the Court of Claims that Claimant should be awarded the sum of $7,737.00.
      Award of $7,737.00.

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