SPECIAL REPORT: When your car gets damage by a pothole, who pays - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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SPECIAL REPORT: When your car gets damaged by a pothole, who pays?

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(Toledo News Now) -

So what happens if you hit one of Toledo's many potholes and bust a tire? Or damage a rim? The city will help you cover the cost, right? 

Wrong.

"It popped the tire and it did the rim some damage," Mattie Vallejo is singing a familiar tune after doing battle with public enemy number one this past winter: potholes. "They're awful. I mean you can't even dodge potholes, you're going to hit another one."

The Director of Law for the City of Toledo, Adam Loukx tells us there has been a lot more claims than usual this year.

"This year cases have been coming a little faster and quicker than we're accustomed to," Loukx told WTOL 11. "But that's directly related to the abnormal weather we've had."

This year alone, crews have patched almost 60,000 potholes on the cities 1,100 lane miles of streets, and still estimate they will be working on potholes and pavement restoration for the rest of the summer.

We looked at all the damage claims from the last 15 years. This year alone we've more than doubled any other year, and we aren't even through May. As of May 14th, there were 722 claims for 2014 so far.

To put that in perspective, in 2012 there were 37 claims for the whole year. Besides this year, 2008 has the most claims, at 317.


Toledo News Now has been on Pothole Patrol since winter began. Check out our "Pothole Patrol" Facebook Event, where people for months have been posting tips and pictures of the absolute worst potholes in and around Toledo.


Over the last 15 years there have been 2,509 damage claims total in Toledo. 722 of those are from the first four and half months of this year. 

So how many of those 2,500 plus people got paid? 8. That's less than .3 percent. The most recent payment was 3 years ago, but all the others were more than 11 years ago. The largest payout from the city was $575.89 in 2002.

Mattie Vallejo was the lucky recipient. We tracked her down to see what happened 12 years ago to lead to that elusive payday from the city.

"It was a manhole sitting too high in the street," Vallejo told us. " It tore the bottom out. More or less messed the bottom up, and I couldn't drive it anymore."

"Historically the city does not pay too many claims for pothole damages and those we do pay are generally going to be construction related. Something we did wrong," Loukx said.

To receive a payout you must prove that either the city had actual or constructive notice of the pothole and failed to respond in a reasonable amount of time, or responded in a negligent manner.

Or that the city, in a general sense, maintains its roadways negligently.

We went to the man in charge of maintenance, David Welch, the Commissioner of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor and he told us:

"It was a brutal winter for us and our roads.."

On average Welch says they do about 40 lane miles a year of major repairs and repavements, but they're also working on preventative maintenance like crack sealing.

Says Welch, "There's always going to be more need to fix roads than there is funding for it. No matter what. That equation, the numbers are just huge for the city of Toledo."

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