Is The City Of Buffalo Liable For Pothole Damage?
The latest pothole in Western New York to swallow a whole tire is on Hertel Ave, and while the victim of this newly-discovered crater may have had a spare tire, they are not looking forward to spending money on buying new tires.
A local lawyer expressed remorse for the individual before giving some advice, and I think all of Western New York should hear this (and yes, that includes you!).
The lawyer posted on Reddit:
"If you want the City to hurry up and fix potholes, know that they can't be held liable for any damage caused by them unless the City Clerk previously received written notice describing the defect and its location."
This written notice is called the "prior written notice rule" and its in the City Charter, section 21-2.
The actually wording of the rule is below.
"No civil action shall be maintained against the city for damage or injuries to person or property sustained in consequence of any street, part or portion of any street including the curb thereof and any encumbrances thereon or attachments thereto, tree, bridge, viaduct, underpass, culvert, parkway or park approach, sidewalk or crosswalk, pedestrian walk or path, or traffic-control sign or signal, being defective, out of repair, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed, or in consequence of the existence or accumulation of snow or ice upon any street, bridge, viaduct, underpass, culvert, parkway or park approach, sidewalk or crosswalk, pedestrian walk or path, unless previous to the occurrence resulting in such damage or injuries written notice of such alleged condition relating to the particular place and location was actually given to the city clerk and there was a failure or neglect within a reasonable time thereafter to remedy or correct the alleged condition complained of."
What this means is…yes, you can call 311, make a phone call, or file an in person complaint about a pothole or the poor conditions of a road, but the only way to file an actual complaint about the alleged conditions of a road is to submit written notice, and it must be delivered to the City Clerk.
How To Submit Written Notice To The City Clerk
You can write a letter and mail it to the City Clerk, and make sure the envelope indicates "Attention: Tianna M. Marks." Email can work for this, too.
Do not send the written notice to a general email or the wrong department — unless you also send a letter to the City Clerk.
The lawyer offering the advice and tips on Reddit said that these comments should not be taken as legal advice, but rather a Good Neighbor helping someone out.
"I just hate that the City gives people the run around on things like "two phone calls" or "311" when it knows that it has prior written notice protection from any actual liability for bad streets."
26 Worst Streets To Live On During a Snow Storm
27 Buffalo Street Names That Out-Of-Towners Think Are Impossible To Pronounce
Best Places For Paczkis in Buffalo, New York