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Can You Get Compensation for Pothole Damage in Cleveland?

March 16, 2020

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Potholes are a hazard in cities across Ohio every winter and spring. These dangerous depressions in public roads are caused when water from snow and rain seeps into tiny cracks in the pavement. When that water freezes, it expands, and through multiple cycles of freezing and thawing, combined with the weight of all the vehicles passing overhead, the pavement weakens and crumbles away into a familiar pothole.

According to a survey conducted by AAA, two-thirds of Americans are concerned about potholes on their local roads. And with good reason!

The Ohio Department of Transportation used 2,574 tons of asphalt in the winter of 2019 to repair potholes. The average repair bill for pothole damage is $300, and potholes cost drivers $3 billion annually. Depending on the severity of the damage, the costs per vehicle could be significantly higher, totaling even thousands of dollars in repairs.

Common Pothole Damage

In addition to scrapes and punctures to the body and undercarriage of your vehicle, potholes can result in significant damage to several of its important systems and components, including:

  • Flat tires
  • Bent wheels
  • Steering system misalignment
  • Suspension damage
  • Exhaust system damage
  • Engine damage

Even worse, potholes can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and cause accidents, potentially injuring themselves and others.

How to Avoid Pothole Damage

  1. Maintain your tires. Tires with full tread and manufacturer-recommended tire pressure are less likely to pop.
  2. Avoid puddles. Potholes are formed where water pools, and a puddle could easily be hiding a deep pothole.
  3. Don’t tailgate. Creating more space between your car and the car in front of yours will provide additional time and space to react to a pothole in your path.
  4. Slow down, but don’t brake. Heavy braking will be more likely to drive the tire down into the hole than over it.
  5. Don’t swerve. Swerving could cause you to collide with another vehicle or pedestrian, or it could cause your tire to hit the edge of the pothole and cause even more damage.

If after hitting a pothole, you experience vibration, your vehicle pulls to the side when the steering wheel is held straight, or if it handles differently than normal, you have likely experienced damage that requires repair.

Getting Compensation for Pothole Damage

Ohio cities, including Cleveland, are responsible for maintaining residential roads within their limits. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining interstates, U.S. Routes, and state routes (except for those within city limits) within Ohio.

When drivers sustain pothole damage to their vehicles, or injuries from hitting potholes, they can file a claim for reimbursement from the city or state by filling out a Cleveland Legal Claims Form. Unfortunately, the city does not make it easy. Cleveland doesn’t pay 81% of the claims made for vehicle damage.

Why? The city states it is not responsible for repairing potholes that it did not have prior knowledge of, or was aware of but did not have a reasonable amount of time to repair before the accident occurred.

Cleveland residents can report a pothole by calling 216.664.2510. You can also report highway potholes on the Ohio Department of Transportation's website.

Even if you do manage to successfully file a claim, the city may only agree to pay the deductible if you have insurance that covers pothole damage. And, under Ohio’s comparative negligence doctrine, if you were found to be partially at fault for the accident that caused you to hit the pothole, you can’t get compensation for the percentage that you were at fault.

What to Do If You’re Injured in a Crash Caused by a Pothole

If you were injured in a crash caused by a pothole, you may be able to get compensation through the same claim form used for vehicle damage. When you make an injury claim against the city or state, it is important to immediately report the incident and take all the same steps you would for a car crash, including getting pictures of the pothole, the contact information of any witnesses, and receipts for your medical expenses.

You should also get in touch with a lawyer, because municipalities are just as likely to try to get out of injury claims as they are property damage claims by pretending ignorance of the pothole. An experienced lawyer, like the ones at Nurenberg Paris, will work hard to provide evidence that proves the city was aware of the dangerous pothole and acted negligently by failing to repair it, causing your injuries.

After a pothole injury, don’t hesitate to contact Nurenberg Paris. Our consultations are always free, with no obligation. We want to help you get compensation after a crash.

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