Local News

In Some Cases, DOT Can Be Liable For Damage Caused By Potholes

Posted February 28, 2003 5:00 a.m. EST

— Potholes caused by ice and chilly temperatures are popping up all over the Triangle, but who is responsible for the damage to your vehicle as a result of hitting them?

Officials with the state Department of Transportation say if they know of a pothole and do not fix it within a reasonable time, usually 24 hours, motorists may be able to file a claim.

"If a pothole erupts overnight and we have no knowledge of that deficiency on our roadway, we cannot make a voluntary payment on those claims," said Jim Rand, of the state Department of Transportation. "The ones we do pay are the ones that we have prior knowledge of and would be responsible for."

Motorists have to fill out a claim form, and then the pothole is investigated by DOT field crews. Then the pothole claim gets the final approval from the state Attorney General's Office.

In Raleigh, the city's policy is the same as the state's policy with one small difference. Your pothole claim will be reviewed by an independent insurance adjuster instead of the state Attorney General's Office.

Some drivers say it should be up to the DOT to handle potholes.

"I think it's kind of their responsibility to get out and look for them and make sure they're correcting them. It's not our job," motorist Mary Kernan said.

DOT officials admit they do not pay out many claims in accident situations from potholes. A spokesperson for Raleigh said the city pays about one out of every 100 pothole claims.

To report a pothole or file a claim, motorists can call

(877) DOT-4-YOU