A Pothole Damaged My Car. How Do I File a Claim?

Reckless, drunk, and distracted drivers cause thousands upon thousands of deaths and injuries every year, not to mention property damage. But there’s another hazard on the roadways: Potholes. Potholes can severely damage your vehicle, causing everything from punctured tires to engine damage. They can also damage your suspension system, exhaust system, steering system, wheel rims, shocks, and struts.

Since it isn’t your responsibility to fill in the potholes on city streets or highways, why should you have to pay for the damage? And what happens when a pothole is deep enough that hitting it causes you to lose control of your car and crash?

Document the damage right away

Whether your car crashed after hitting a pothole or not, you should thoroughly document the scene and the damage. If you didn’t crash, you should pull over as soon as possible. Take plenty of pictures of the pothole, the section of roadway where it’s located, and the damage to your vehicle. Get close-up shots of your vehicular damage as well as distance shots.

When taking pictures of the pothole, you should try to find an object for reference. For example, you could put your shoe or hairbrush next to the pothole so the picture reveals the general size of the defect. Remember to write down the name of the street and the nearest cross-street.

Report the incident

Before you can file a claim for compensation, you’ll need to report the offending pothole to the appropriate municipal body. This might be the borough council or another municipal organization, depending on exactly where you were when the incident happened. If you intend to submit a claim for reimbursement, you’ll need to provide copies of all car repair estimates and invoices. Keep the originals for your own records.

Disputing a denied claim

There is a good chance that your claim for reimbursement will be denied. The entity responsible for repairing that particular section of road might claim that it wasn’t their fault because they were unaware the pothole existed. If this happens, your best course of action is to consult a car accident lawyer. The lawyer can request the road inspection reports. It may come to light that either the entity failed to conduct road inspections as required, or that the pothole was indeed discovered earlier, but left unfixed.

Filing a car insurance claim

If reimbursement isn’t forthcoming from the city or borough council, and the damage to your car was extensive, your other option is to file a claim with your insurance company. Pothole damage is considered a one-car accident. Give it some thought before deciding whether it’s worth it to file a claim. Your insurance premiums could go up at your next renewal. It’s also possible that your deductible is more than the cost to repair your car out of pocket.

Get the legal advocacy services you need in NYC

The Long Island car accident lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye can help you get your life back on track after a crash. Our personal injury team is experienced at handling all types of car accident claims involving severe and catastrophic injuries, property damage, and vehicle total loss. Call our law firm in New York City at 1.800.469.7429 to get your case reviewed and find out about your legal options.

Additional resources on car safety

  1. Popular Mechanics, How Badly Can Potholes Damage Your Car? https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/a9993/how-badly-can-potholes-damage-your-car-16326605/
  2. Allstate, Does Car Insurance Cover Pothole Damage? https://www.allstate.com/tr/car-insurance/is-pothole-damage-covered.aspx