CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When you have an accident, the first thing you do is access the damage and determine responsibility. But for one Charlotte man, that’s not proving to be easy given the open manhole he hit.
Imagine hitting a manhole that was left open, but nobody will take the blame.
LJ Bryant hit the manhole on a rainy day on David Taylor drive right in front of the Duke Energy call center.
WCNC asked Bryant if he knew it was an uncovered manhole.
“No, but within seconds, the tire was flat and busted,” Bryant said.
The tire, the rim and eventually the axle were all damaged. Manhole covers weigh about 110 pounds, so it’s not like it flipped itself over, and it was the middle of the day in front of a business with plenty of traffic, so let’s rule out kids and mischief.
What can’t be ignored, however, are spray painted markings seen on curbs and on the road, all indicating that someone was working here.
“I didn’t cause this, it’s not something I could have avoided, it’s not a residential street and it’s not debris I ran over," Bryant said. "I mean this was a sewer manhole that the city or the state maintains, you just can’t pull those up.”
LJ has been emailing and calling the attorney general’s office, state Department of Transportation, county DOT and finally WCNC's Bill McGinty.
No one seemed to know who was working that day and all say they’re not responsible -- the state even saying so in writing.
The state of North Carolina says in their response to Bryant that they can’t be held responsible for something they didn’t know about.
“I should be taken care of better than this," Bryant said.
This isn’t resolved yet, but McGinty is continuing to work with Bryant and the DOT to try to resolve this.
Whenever something like this happens, there are a many hoops to jump through, including paperwork to fill out, making the process daunting and irritating. Bill McGinty's best advice: document everything when something like this happens.
Late Thursday, a state DOT spokesperson emailed NBC Charlotte this official response:
“Got a copy of the claim. I can tell from it and the response letter from the DOT that also went to the AG’s office why it was rejected. There was apparently no ongoing work at the site that can be attributed to the DOT, any utility or local government work project. It was just that it was no longer set in the manhole itself (see the picture). In the DOT letter you will see the local office was called the day of the incident (doesn’t say who contacted it) and it sent someone out to the scene, but the cover had been put back in place by the time it got there. And that call was the first notice the local office had about the issue.So the cause of the problem is unknown. So there isn’t any group, agency or individual who could be held accountable, and in turn liable for the damages. In a way it is the same thing as if something falls off a vehicle on the road or maybe a piece of truck tire comes loose, and then someone hits the object and damages their vehicle. If the owner of the first vehicle can’t be tracked down, unfortunately it falls on the owner of the damaged vehicle (and likely their insurance company) to be responsible for the repairs. If you don’t know how an issue happens, you can’t hold someone liable for the damages.”