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Pothole Accidents in San Francisco

by Lauren Meisel, April 12, 2023

San Francisco, along with many other cities in California, is notorious for its potholes, particularly during the rainy season. Potholes pose serious risks of injury to cyclists and pedestrians. Personal injury claims related to potholes are often highly complex and, because of an often shorter statute of limitations for pothole claims, allow less time for filing a lawsuit.

Why are potholes dangerous? Who can you address pothole complaints to in San Francisco? If a pothole causes you to trip and fall, what should you do about it? Should you hire an attorney? This article answers these questions and offers tips and tricks on making your experience as a pedestrian and cyclist in San Francisco more pleasant and safe.

What causes potholes?

When a roadway is not regularly maintained, potholes can form. Common causes of potholes include: heavy traffic; damaged sewers; wet weather; aging pavement; and water build up.

Why are potholes dangerous?

Potholes are dangerous because they are hard to see. They can blend in with the roadway or become invisible when the sun is down or lighting is low. And even if the pothole is very visible, users of the road are often rightfully paying attention to their surroundings and not looking down, such as at an intersection with traffic lights.

When a pedestrian doesn’t see a pothole and steps into it, they may trip and fall. And when a cyclist doesn’t see a pothole and rides over it, they may be ejected from their bike leading to a bicycle accident.

Potholes can even be dangerous when people do see them, as when a motorist swerves suddenly to avoid a pothole and causes a collision.

How to get a pothole fixed?

If you notice a pothole, you don’t have to wait until someone gets injured to do something about it. Many cities in California have a complaint system where people can report dangerous potholes. In San Francisco, people can report potholes via 311, which offers a phone number, online form, and mobile app for reporting road safety issues.

What should you do if you are injured because of a pothole?

If you are injured because of a pothole, there are a few steps you should follow:

1. Take photographs of the pothole right away. If the pothole gets repaired before it is documented there may be no evidence that it ever existed

2. Note the exact location of the pothole

3. Follow the same steps you would after any traffic accident, including calling 911 if necessary

4. Contact an experienced attorney to determine if you have a case. It’s particularly important to do this quickly after a pothole incident. A municipality or state department may be responsible for the roadway or sidewalk where the pothole is located. Cases against public entities have shorter statutes of limitations than a typical two-year limit for bodily injury claims. Public entities must be put on notice of a claim within 6 months of the incident to preserve the ability to bring a lawsuit.

Contact an Experienced Pothole Accident Lawyer

At Meisel Law Group, we are experienced at handling cases involving dangerous conditions of property, including pothole cases, in San Francisco and California. Contact us if you or a loved one has been injured in a pothole accident. We offer free consultation and we always work on a contingency basis (no fee or reimbursement of costs unless there is a recovery).