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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 30
Category(s): NOTICE
Opinion Issued November 26, 2013
JAMES P. SEMENIE
VS.
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
(12-0381)
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Andrew F. Tarr, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
     PER CURIAM:
     
      Claimant brought this action for personal injuries which occurred while walking along I-64 in Putnam County. I-64 is a public road maintained by Respondent. The Court is of the opinion to deny this claim for the reasons more fully stated below.
      The incident giving rise to this claim occurred on April 3, 2012. Claimant stated that while he was traveling to work, at approximately 4:15 a.m., he ran over a large piece of concrete that was lying in the middle of the travel portion of the roadway. As a result, Claimant testified that his vehicle came into contact with the object. Claimant stated that other vehicles were disabled and parked along the side of the roadway due to contact with the object. The road conditions on the date of the incident were good. As a result of this incident, Claimant’s vehicle sustained damage in the amount of $477.93. Claimant carried collision insurance with a $250.00 deductible amount on the date of the incident.
      It is the Claimant’s position that Respondent knew or should have known about the foreign object situated along I-64 and that the concrete created a hazardous condition to the traveling public. The position of the Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the condition on I-64 at the time 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 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). The Court has previously held Respondent liable where the driver of the vehicle was forced to use the berm in an emergency situation, and the berm was in disrepair. See Handley v. Div. of Highways, CC-08-0069 ( 2008); Warfield v. Div. of Highways, CC-08-0105 ( 2008).
      In the instant case, the Court finds that Respondent did not have actual or constructive notice of the foreign object that Claimant struck along I-64 on the date in question. There is no evidence that Respondent was notified of the hazard a reasonable time before Claimant’s vehicle struck the object.
      In view of the foregoing, the Court is of the opinion to, and does hereby, DENY this claim.
      Claim disallowed.
     
Summary:
     


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