Local News

Wake County Man Wants City To Pay For Damage Caused By Meter Cover

Posted June 24, 2003 9:55 a.m. EDT

— Many Triangle drivers are shocked to learn that you can end up stuck with the bill if you hit something unsafe in the road. A Wake County man is still trying to fight City Hall to reclaim his money for a rough ride.

There are 20,000 water valve covers on Raleigh's streets, but Michael Yarur ran over the wrong one.

"I hit a cover that was actually sitting upright in the middle of the road," he said. "I tried to avoid it, but I clipped it and I hit it. I had a blowout right away."

Raleigh's water district superintendent says the covers are not perfect. Officials say they are not attached and someone could run over it and bring it up out of the hole. They pop up sometimes and that is what Yarur's car hit.

"It sheared right through the tire and it fractured the rim, leaving it undriveable and the tire is useless," he said.

The total damage to Yarur's BMW came to $619. He called the city and called the city's insurer. He even appeared before the City Council. However, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Yarur does not deserve anything.

"Until there is notice, until we know there is a problem, then there is no negligence by the city and the city is not authorized to pay any claim," he said.

The rule of the road on both the state and local level is that the government has to hear about it and get a chance to fix it before it will pay.

"It's not protecting the citizens. It's protecting the city," he said. "It's keeping them from having to pay out when they may not be willing to maintain the roads while it is actually part of their job."

City officials said they receive one or two complaints a month about the water valve covers. They tell WRAL no one has been reimbursed for damages.