In early December of 2016, a sinkhole opened up in an industrial area of San Antonio, causing sinkhole accidents where two cars fell into the hole. A deputy sheriff died and two people suffered injury from the accident.
The Dallas News reported that the sinkhole opened up because of a ruptured sewer line. The city had been aggressively involved in replacing old sewer pipes in that section of the city. The sinkhole covered the whole width of the road.
What Causes Sinkholes?
Sinkholes open up suddenly and unexpectedly. U.S. Geological Survey reports that sinkholes exist all over the country and especially in states like Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Erosion resulting from natural or manmade causes makes the ground over an area unstable. Long before the sinkhole appears, the rock and minerals under the soil erode and the underground structure beneath the land washes away. When the structure is so weakened that it can’t support anything on top of it, the surface abruptly collapses and the sinkhole appears.
Can Someone Be Held Liable for Sinkhole Accidents?
While sinkholes are thought of as freaks of nature, there are instances when parties can be held liable.
When an individual knows of a dangerous situation and fails to warn others about it, the person may be subject to a negligence claim. If a property owner realizes part of the property is being eroded or should have known about it and fails to post signs or warn others, the owner may be held liable for injury or death. Under these conditions, a sinkhole may lead to a premises liability lawsuit.
If someone sells you a piece property and fails to disclose a property hazard they knew about, they could be held liable for real estate fraud.
Industrial companies doing underground work that affects the structure of nearby neighborhoods may be subject to litigation if sinkholes develop and people suffer injury or property damage.
Seek Legal Help and Protect Your Rights
If you or a loved one suffered injury because of a sinkhole, the Law Offices of Michael R. De La Paz can investigate the circumstances and advise whether you have a potential case.