When you think of dangers you may run into when driving, you may not think of the possibility of a sinkhole causing an accident, damaging your vehicle, and possibly causing injuries. Drivers typically take it for granted that roads will be safe to drive on, but when a road isn’t properly maintained, it can cause major damage to a vehicle as well as injury to both drivers and passengers.
If you have been in an accident caused by a sinkhole, you may feel like some force of nature was against you and that it was just a freak accident and nobody’s’ fault. While this is true much of the time, there are also situations in which a sinkhole accident happened because of someone’s negligence.
What is a Sinkhole and What Causes it?
A sinkhole is a depression or hole that forms under the ground because of natural water drainage. It’s caused by erosion and the drainage of water, and it can be created gradually or suddenly. In most cases, sinkholes start to form long before they actually appear.
While many sinkholes are caused by natural circumstances, some sinkholes are caused by man-made influences. Water pipes that break can intensify the creation of underground flows, which can speed the process of erosion and the formation of sinkholes. Mining, drilling, and construction can also erode or destabilize the ground and lead to sinkholes.
Who is Liable for a Sinkhole Accident?
In some circumstances, someone’s failure to behave responsibly may lead to the creation of a sinkhole and ultimately to an accident. When a sinkhole is very large or very deep, there is the possibility that the accident may cause serious injury.
Carelessness can lead to the creation of a sinkhole, and the person responsible for it could be an individual or a business such as a construction company. For example, if a corporation does extensive drilling or water drainage, the land in the surrounding area may be compromised, which could make the business liable for an accident that happens because of their actions.
Sinkhole Accidents on Private Property
Homeowners and owners of commercial property are expected to maintain a safe environment for anyone that happens to be on their property. There shouldn’t be hazards or debris that may cause someone to slip and fall or to sustain injuries if they can be prevented. There are times when a homeowner may be found liable for the upkeep of their property.
If you are injured in a sinkhole on private property, some things will need to be determined, such as:
- Whether the owner could have prevented the accident. For example, it’s possible they were aware of the danger and did nothing about it
- Whether a reasonable person in similar circumstances would have discovered the danger and taken steps to correct it
- Had the sinkhole already formed before you encountered it? Could the sinkhole have been covered or clearly marked to make the situation safer?
Determining Liability After a Sinkhole Accident
It’s possible that someone’s negligence led to the creation of a sinkhole or a failure to fix it. Before you think about filing a lawsuit, consider your own actions and whether you may have been distracted while driving and whether you disregarded posted signs.
If your actions had nothing to do with the accident, you may want to consult an expert in the field of personal injury law to make sure you understand your rights and for guidance in determining who was liable for the accident.
Get in touch with Taos Injury Lawyers by completing the form on this page and we’ll get back to you soon to talk about your sinkhole accident and what your options are.