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Ind. Sheriffs Don't Have To Warn About Dangerous Road Conditions

PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. --

County sheriffs in Indiana have no legal responsibility to warn drivers about potentially hazardous conditions on roadways, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The ruling comes in a case from Putnam County, where a driver sued over a crash on an icy roadway in November 2007.

Pamela Price suffered injuries when she lost control of her car and the vehicle overturned on a patch of ice apparently caused by a leaking water line.

A sheriff's deputy had responded to a crash in that same location about two hours earlier and contacted the county highway department about the icy patch.

The suit claims the deputy did not take steps to alleviate the icy conditions, or post warnings about it for other drivers.

The court's opinion said the sheriff has no duty to warn drivers because the department does not own, operate or maintain control over the highway and had no legal duty to post any warnings.

That responsibility lies with the county highway supervisor, the justices noted.

Price also filed suit against the Putnam County Highway Department, Putnam County Board of Commissioners and the Reelsville Water Authority.

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