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Road Contractor Not Held Liable for Completed Road Work

Written by: Tiffany R. Winks, Esq.

The general rule in Georgia is that a road contractor cannot be held responsible for completed work over which he no longer exercises control. While there are exceptions to this general rule, such as work that is so negligently defective as to be considered imminently dangerous, if the work performed by the contractor is not shown to come within one of the exceptions to the general rule he cannot be held liable. When the work is finished by him and accepted by his employer, the liability of the former generally ceases and the employer becomes answerable for damages, which may thereafter accrue from defective conditions of the work.

Recently, in Brown v. Seabord Constr. Co., 330 Ga. App. 778 (2015), the Court of Appeals of Georgia entered an Order affirming the grant of summary judgment in favor of a contractor in a negligence claim filed by a road passenger who was injured when she hit a pothole on a road that had been repaved several years earlier by the contractor. The Court explained that an affidavit of the contractor’s vice president established that the contractor had finished the repaving work and the DOT had accepted the work well before the accident; and there was nothing in the record to suggest the contractor was exercising any control over the road at the time of the accident. Further, the Court of Appeals found that nothing in the record suggested that the road had a “hidden” defect when the DOT accepted the work from the contractor or that any of the other exceptions to the general rule regarding road contractor liability applied. Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the road contractor.