Anyone who has driven on icy roads has given thanks for salt in the past. It makes travel in the winter possible, but it sure looks ugly, doesn't it? No problem. As soon as spring comes along, just hop in the car wash to be rid of it, right?
The only trouble is that salt is a corrosive agent, and leaving it on for the entire winter can have adverse effects on your vehicle. If that is the case, you may have recourse. There are times when the government may be liable for salt damage to your car, but you need to know how to prove it.
A Little Rusty
If left on your car for a length of time, salt begins to cause rust. This is especially true for the undercarriage, which a lot of vehicle owners neglect to clean with any regularity. Two particularly vulnerable systems are the brake and fuel lines. Their close proximity to the ground puts them in close contact with excess salt on the road.
Unlike a pothole, which requires proper maintenance, salt is considered to be the appropriate solution to the problem of ice. Since your car belongs to you, you are responsible to get it washed and cleaned after driving on a salted road. But if you already have rust exposed, you could make the argument that corrosion was accelerated by unwarranted road salt.
Windshield damage from traveling close behind a salt truck is common as well. As long as you were a safe distance behind the truck and all of the salt is properly secured, you can file a claim against whoever is in charge of roadway maintenance.
If there is no serious damage to your car, there is a good chance your suit will be rejected. If not, be honest with yourself about the degree of damage because it could decrease your chances of settling immediately.
Fine Print and Your Expectations
Remember that there is a time limit to file a suit. Check your state's statute of limitations laws to be sure you can still file a legitimate claim. Also, be on the lookout for the government's sovereign immunity. If your claim is rejected, it will be difficult to push forward with it, but if the damage to your car is serious enough, your odds of success increase.
In any legal matter, it's always best to consult a lawyer first. The short argument is that because salt is a public necessity, the government is immune to liability. However, it doesn't hurt to try when damages are excessive.
For more information, consult a law firm such as Vandeventer Black LLP.