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LawHelpNow
LawHelpNow, Attorney/Lawyer
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our daughter hit a power pole on a old road where they just

Customer Question

our daughter hit a power pole on a old road where they just had made the road wider, then as it returned to its original narrow state, there were no fog line to guide her, her small 90's mazda protoge hit a power pole and moved it 3".    She was not injurged yet, the pole, unlike all the others on the road had not been replaced, it was placed there in the 1930's.   They droped down the charge for the pole to $33.00 for depreciation, but labor was almost $10,000.00. It happened at 2:30 in the after noon. My point is that the pole was not the standard 30' from the center line that I was always told was public property, everything must be a breakaway type structure within that distance. Even the police will have you towed was at its best 20 inches from the edge of the road way.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 5 years ago.

Hello and thanks for choosing Just Answer®. I am a licensed attorney, and I will be glad to try and assist you. To provide you with accurate information, could you please clarify these points:

 

  1. What is your question for a legal expert to answer?
  2. What is the jurisdiction (state and city or county) in question?

 

Once I hear back from you, I will be glad to let you know my answer. There may be some delay as I am assisting other customers or am away from my computer. Please rest assured, however, that I will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

Thanks!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
what we need to know is do we have any rights, as tax payers, as to our safety with the right of way. A neighbor of ours was taken to court for having cementing in his mail box ( kids keep batting them down for fun), and a person traveling down the road had a mild diabetic episode, he then drove off the road and when he did, he hit the mail box, whick was'nt easily broken away and the land owner was sued for it. How come PGE can put something in the ground without warning that is not a break-away object. The road was previousley widened, right at the end of the road modification, was a power pole. The new one is not as close as the one she hit. It was over 80 years old! They charged us $33.00 for the pole and almost $10,000.00 for the labor to replace it. There was no visible fog line, just a bit of gravel and then a pole. Do we have any ors statutes that can help us with what should be public property and the safety of it? There must be a guide line or factual measurment regarding warning of narowing road way or something. We are lucky she walked away from it! Picture this, a mazda protoge moving as power pole 3 feet. and the tracks were those of a car that caught the supposed shoulder (not one) griped her tire and took her into that pole.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
what we need to know is do we have any rights, as tax payers, as to our safety with the right of way. A neighbor of ours was taken to court for having cementing in his mail box ( kids keep batting them down for fun), and a person traveling down the road had a mild diabetic episode, he then drove off the road and when he did, he hit the mail box, whick was'nt easily broken away and the land owner was sued for it. How come PGE can put something in the ground without warning that is not a break-away object. The road was previousley widened, right at the end of the road modification, was a power pole. The new one is not as close as the one she hit. It was over 80 years old! They charged us $33.00 for the pole and almost $10,000.00 for the labor to replace it. There was no visible fog line, just a bit of gravel and then a pole. Do we have any ors statutes that can help us with what should be public property and the safety of it? There must be a guide line or factual measurment regarding warning of narowing road way or something. We are lucky she walked away from it! Picture this, a mazda protoge moving as power pole 3 feet. and the tracks were those of a car that caught the supposed shoulder (not one) griped her tire and took her into that pole. I forgot to add, this was in Clackamas County, Oregon
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 5 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance as I answer your question.

 

  1. I am a licensed attorney, and I will be glad to try and answer your question. I hope that the following information will be helpful to you, but please just write back if you have any follow-up questions or need clarification on anything after reviewing the following information. Thank you for taking the time to write back and supply the additional requested information, which was helpful to my analysis of your inquiry. I am sorry for this situation, and I hope that everything gets resolved appropriately in this matter.
  2. Based on the circumstances you have related here, I think you excellent grounds for supporting your position. In fact, I think there is a good argument that the local government is liable under a theory of negligence per se (negligence that "speaks for itself" -- is readily apparent -- by disregard of the law.
  3. First, regarding the issue of the maintenance of the pole, I am glad that you daughter was not seriously injured, but it certainly sounds like this ancient pole had no business still being in service. With proper maintenance, the average lifetime of a wood utility pole is typically 30 to 40 years from my understanding of the literature. It sounds like this pole exceeded that period by two times, at least.
  4. Secondly, you have correctly identified a very important factor here in the distance where the utility pole rested in terms of length from the center line. This has changed some over the years: Statutory County Road Widths:

    Jan. 27, 1854: Standard width 60 feet. A lesser width can be stated.
    May 21, 1889: Prescribed 60-foot as standard width when no width is stated. Stated width is subject to a minimum of 40 feet and a maximum of 80 feet.
    May 22, 1915: Prescribed 60-foot standard width when none is stated. But reduces the minimum stated width to 30 feet.
    June 6, 1931: Prescribed no standard width. Width of a county road must be stated and must be a minimum of 30 feet.
    July 5, 1947: Minimum width increased to 50 feet.

  5. What all of this boils down to is that, based on my experience in dealing with governmental agencies under such circumstances. You folks are up against a bureaucracy that is likely to be poorly responsive to your arguments without legal counsel. I hate to say that, but in my experience at least this has indeed been the case. There are also some tight time frames and procedures requirements to comply with in order to preserve your daughter's rights under a legal doctrine known as claims presentation.

  6. As a practical matter, here is what I would suggest. I think that the only way you folks will receive any meaningful measure of relief is to speak with a local attorney about this incident. The most economical way to do this would be through the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service, where you can obtain your first in-office consultation for $35 or less. This is where I would suggest you start to explore your options. They operate from 8 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 5 pm Monday-Friday, and can be reached by calling(NNN) NNN-NNNNor toll-free in Oregon at(NNN) NNN-NNNN I wish that I had a simple approach to suggest, but in my experience you are going to need to confer with local legal counsel on this.


 

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The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

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