Do I have any recourse against the city regarding an accident caused by an open manhole?
Question Details: My daughter was driving her new SUV last night in the snow when her right rear tire fell into an open manhole cover. There was plenty of snow, so it was difficult to see the obstruction in the road. The impact broke her axle and sent the car into a spin which eventually led the vehicle to smash into another car. All air bags went off and the front of the car is history. I believe it's totaled. This is a lease car and I have a $1000 deductible.
You may have recourse IF you can show that the city was at fault. They would be at fault if 1) their employees (e.g. road maintenance) left the manhole open; or 2) someone else had removed the cover, the fact the cover was missing had been called into the city, and despite having notice of the missing cover and enough time to get there and replace it (or at least put cones around to warn people), they failed to act.
On the other hand, if some other person (e.g. a scrap metal scavenger, or a teen doing a very stupid and dangerous prank) removed the cover and the city had no warning that it was missing, the city was not at fault. Not being at fault, they would not be liable and you would have no recourse against them.