If I hit a manhole cover that was laying in the roadway and totaled my brand new car, how can I make sure that it is paid off in full so I can get a new car?

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If I hit a manhole cover that was laying in the roadway and totaled my brand new car, how can I make sure that it is paid off in full so I can get a new car?

The police said that it is the county that will be at fault. However, I’m worried that my car won’t be paid off in full and that I will be out of a car and money.

Asked on June 17, 2012 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Presumably, you do not have collission insurance; if you do, the best and easiest way to seek compensation is to claim under it.

In the absence of insurance, if the county chooses to not pay you voluntarily, you would have to sue it and prove that it was negligent: i.e. either that its employees placed the cover there, or that it was aware that someone else had unlawfully placed its cover in the roadway and despite knowing that, failed to fix the situation. If the county was not at fault--for example, someone recently moved the cover without the county's permission or knowledge--it would not be liable.

Note that there are very short deadlines for filing a claim against the government, and also strict paperwork requirements. If you don't file in the right way or on a timely basis, you will not be allowed to bring your claim. Therefore, if you think you may wish to have the option of suing the county, speak to an attorney NOW about starting the ball rolling.


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