Davison v. Snohomish Cty.

149 Wash. 109, 270 P. 422 (1928)



It is undoubtedly the law that it is the duty of a municipality to keep its bridges in a reasonably safe condition for travel. On the other hand, a municipality is not an insurer of the safety of every one who uses its thoroughfares; nor is it required to keep the same in such a condition that accidents cannot possibly happen upon them.


Plaintiffs were injured when their car disembarked from the road and went over a bridge. Plaintiffs brought suit against defendant alleging that defendant was negligent in its maintenance and construction of the roadway. After a verdict for plaintiff, the trial court denied defendant's motions for judgment notwithstanding verdict and for a new trial. Defendant appealed and the court reversed judgment.


Can defendant be held liable for damages to plaintiff for negligence in their maintenance of the roadway?




The court held that municipalities are required to keep their roadways reasonably safe for travel. However, a municipality's duty was to use ordinary care in the maintenance of the roads. Defendant could not be liable for the condition of the approach to the bridge unless the dangerous condition had been there for a sufficient time to give defendant notice, and defendant was negligent in repairing the condition. In this case, the dirt on the roadway had been there only a short time before the accident. 

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