5 On Your Side

Pothole payouts depend on you

Posted May 19, 2015 6:20 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2015 9:44 a.m. EDT

Jason Bone needed two new tires and rims after hitting a crater-like pothole on Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh that he had seen before but never reported.

“Both my tires went in that hole, and as soon as it happened, it blew out and it actually kind of jerked me off the road a little bit,” he said.

The price tag for his new wheels and rims was a hefty $750.

Howard Road in north Raleigh is another place where plenty of drivers get socked by a pothole.

"We did hear one that hit it hard enough that we heard the ‘pssst’ afterwards that you knew their tire had blown,” said Angie Ferree, who lives on the street.

The repairs add up for blown tires, damaged rims and alignments, and many people think the state or local government responsible for the road should pay for the repairs.

However, a 5 On Your Side review of claims from drivers shows that doesn't happen very often.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation maintains the most miles of roads in the state. Since 2013, the department has received 716 road-related claims covering everything from potholes to guardrail accidents.

The department paid on 52 claims, or 7 percent.

The Town of Cary had five claims and didn’t pay any.

The City of Raleigh paid four out of 34 claims, or 11 percent, while the City of Durham paid eight out of 63 claims, or 13 percent.

"What determines whether or not we pay those claims is did we have prior knowledge and we didn't respond to it in a reasonable amount of time,” said Chris McGee, who oversees road work for the City of Raleigh. "We don't pay many claims because we basically patch about 97, 98 percent of what we get in a 24-hour period."

But crews can't patch potholes if they don't know about them.

“What we would encourage folks to do is before you hit it – and you did avoid it – go ahead and call us and tell us. You may keep somebody else from hitting it."

Bone wishes he had called. The NC Attorney General’s Office denied his claim, saying the state was not at fault, since the pothole hadn’t been reported.

Go online to report potholes and other problems in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and the state.