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City Not Responsible After Manhole Cover Flips Up and Destroys Driver's Car In Greensboro

The manhole cover slammed into the underside of Ricquita Tarpley-Carter's car. She immediately noticed fluid was leaking from the car.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It’s a road Ricquita Tarpley-Carter takes almost every day. In fact, she can’t leave her house without driving on the road, “It’s in pretty good shape for the most part,” said Tarpley-Carter

There was however a trouble spot about 200 feet up the road from her house. A manhole, specifically the cover, would often come loose and rattle when cars would drive over it, “When people drive over it makes a noise and bounces a bit,” said Anya Zainabus.

Neighbors living in the area were very aware of the manhole and most would just drive around it, “It flip over all the time, so I stopped driving over it,” said Bobby Waldorf.

Carter-Tarpley was heading out one night when she started to get close to the manhole, “I thought I went around it,” said Tarpley-Carter. As it runs out she didn’t, and the cover not only flipped up it hit the underside of her car, “I heard a huge jolt,” said Tarpley-Carter. “I looked under and could see fluid coming out.”

The heavy metal cover did a significant amount of damage. Tarpley-Carter reached out to her insurance agency and filed a claim with the city. She was in shock when her insurance adjuster informed her they were going to declare the car a total loss, “I couldn’t believe a manhole cover ruined my car,” said Tarpley-Carter.

The city of Greensboro has an outside agency that handles all of it’s claims. The independent agency investigated and determined the city was not responsible for the damage, “There are things beyond the city’s control that we can’t compensate people for,” said Assistant City Manager Kimberly Sowell.

The issue comes down to neglect. Did the city act in a negligent way? In this case since the city was not aware of the issue it was determined the city is not negligent and thus is not responsible, “We simply can’t look at every manhole every day,” said Sowell.

The city maintains more than 1,100 miles of roadways and more than 33,000 manholes. If there is a problem crews will come out to fix it but only if they know. In this case no one contacted the city about the loose cover, “I think the city is responsible,” said Tarpley-Carter.

The independent agency investigated and determined the city did not receive a single call about the loose cover until after the accident. Had someone called a few days prior and the city did not respond to fix the issue it could be held responsible.

In this instance Tarpley-Carter had to use her own insurance and not tax dollars to purchase a new car.

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