What to do about auto damage from unmarked chain across driveway?

I recently drove up an upslope access road in a commercial property development that had large signage for available lots. The thing is, the road had a metal chain across it which was all but impossible to see until it was too late. No color on it, no sign hanging from it or nearby, and the chain color was nearly the same color as the asphalt driveway visually behind it (as it is an upslope). My car was damaged quite a bit as a result. My vision is 20/20. The repair estimate is over $1000, and I have $500 deductible on my car insurance. Does the developer have any liability for this?

Asked on November 3, 2011 under Accident Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is a good chance the developer would be liable. Their liability would be based on negligence, or being unreasonably careless. It is unreasonably careless to hang a chain across a diveway or access road--particularly one which would seem to foreseeably be used by people not familar with the area but who are attacted by the large signs the developer itself put up for lots. You should be able to recover your out of pocket (e.g. deductible costs) from the developer; if they don't pay voluntarily, you'd have to sue them, but may be able to sue in sjmall claims court to minimize your costs. Good luck.

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