Q: Who is responsible for trimming limbs that hang into the roadway, and who is liable if a vehicle is damaged?
A: In Dothan, the Public Works department’s Street Division is responsible for trimming tree limbs and bushes and cutting grass on the city right of way.
As for who is liable if a vehicle is damaged by a limb hanging into the roadway, in most cases it is going to be the driver.
A hanging limb is like a pothole, debris, a deer, or any other road hazard that a vehicle can hit or that can hit a vehicle.
According to the response to the question “Explain what a road hazard means in auto insurance terms” by consumer analyst and insurance expert Penny Gusner on carinsurance.com, car insurance companies want you to “be a safe, defensive driver who is observant and on the lookout for dangers on the roadway that may cause damage to your vehicle and avoid these perils if possible.”
Insurance providers know that avoidance isn’t always possible, and that you may need to make a claim under your physical damage coverage.
Gusner explains coverage this way:
“For instance, potholes aren’t always seen or unavoidable, but you can easily end up with a punctured tire, misaligned steering or damage to the underside of your vehicle. Or you might hit a patch of oil and lose control and hit a guardrail. Car insurance policies will cover such damages under your collision coverage if the damage is more than your collision deductible amount.
“Whether a road hazard accident will fall under your collision or comprehensive coverage depends upon how the incident occurred.
“If you hit a fallen tree or big rock in the road, then it’s a collision claim because you collided with the object. Instead, if the tree fell on your vehicle or a boulder rolled onto the hood of your vehicle, then most auto insurers would find the accident to be a comprehensive claim.
“Whatever the damage, if the cost of repairs is minimal, it might not be worth filing a claim with your auto insurance provider, either because it doesn’t reach your deductible amount or is barely above it.
“I’d recommend that you pay out-of-pocket for your minor repairs and leave car insurance claims for expensive damage you can’t afford to fix on your own.
“While comprehensive claims don’t typically raise your rates, collision claims can, and either type of claim may get you surcharged by your insurer if you have accumulated several claims (of any type) within a short period of time.
“Outside of the insurance industry, you may also hear the term road hazard in regard to coverage you can obtain when purchasing new tires. This isn’t part of an auto insurance policy but a warranty with an outside company that will repair or replace your tires if they receive certain damages caused by objects in or on the roadway. The cost of a road hazard warranty varies but typically it will cost you around $10 to $20 per tire for the coverage.”
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