State Failure to Warn of Water on a Highway

In Sallee v. State (1990), 42 Ill. Ct. Cl. 41, an award was made because the State failed to warn of water on a highway even though it had notice of the defect in question. Another difficult issue to resolve in this case, and the one which more often arises in similar cases, is that of negligence. Numerous cases decided by this Court have held that this State is not an insurer as to the safety of motorists or passengers upon its highways. The State is only required to maintain its highways in a reasonably safe condition. In addition, before the State can be held liable for highways which are not maintained in a reasonably safe condition, the State must have notice of the dangerous condition. This notice requirement has been defined by this Court in numerous cases to be either actual notice or constructive notice. If the State had notice of water standing on the roadway at this location, the State would have been required to either correct that situation or to place warning signs as to the dangerous condition.