Tort Liability for Highway MaintenanceThe massive collapse of an interstate highway bridge in Minnesota in 2007 has served as a stark reminder of the problems created by the aging infrastructure in the United States. Numerous less dramatic examples of the consequences of failure to maintain properly and repair highways and associated structures such as bridges and tunnels have led to the bringing of legal actions claiming damages for deaths, personal injuries, or property damage caused by such occurrences. Such actions can involve both governmental units and contractors who perform highway repair and maintenance work on behalf of those governmental units
The maintenance and repair of the public streets and highways are the responsibilities of government at its various levels. As a result, government entities have a duty to maintain properly the public roads and to repair deficiencies in the road system that comes to their attention. Actions seeking to recover damages as a result of failure to maintain properly and repair public roadways may involve incidents resulting from a defect existing in a highway itself, or they may be based on conditions at a road repair site, and contractors working at such a site may thus become involved in these suits.
The standards for bringing such legal actions are often set out in bodies of statutory law referred to as tort claims acts, which sometimes contain requirements that a claimant