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Are You A Pothole Victim? There Might Be Help For You!

Big pothole on road after winter

Photo: Getty Images

The recent storms in Southern California caused a mess all over, especially our roadways. They're littered with potholes that are flattening tires across Southern California, and that damage can be costly. According to the Auto Club of Southern California, not only can a pothole flatten a tire, but it can impact your rims and the suspension of your vehicle, so the cost for a repair can be anywhere from $250 to $1,000 or more!

You might think there's not much you can do. Your car insurance may cover pothole damage, BUT if you have a deductible, you'll have to pay that first, and that might not make it worth filing the claim.

BUT... depending on where the damage happened, there could be some assistance out there for you.

If you are able, take photos of the damage to your car and the pothole that caused it. Then, make sure to get estimates to fix it or a copy of the bill if you get it fixed fast.

Here's what's next:

If the damage happened on a city street, you'd need to reach out to the city where the damage happened to file a claim.

If the damage happens on a private road, you'll need to reach out to the owner of the road to file a claim.

If the damage happened on a state highway or interstate, Caltrans offers up to $10,000 to drivers if their vehicle has been damaged by potholes.

Caltrans sent us this useful checklist regarding claims for pothole damage:

  • The road hazard must have been known by Caltrans prior to the incident and with enough time for crews to have the opportunity to fix it. That’s usually 24 hours notice.
  • Or, the incident must have been probably caused by a Caltrans employee (for example, a lawn mower inadvertently shoots a rock into the window of an oncoming car.)
  • Each claim is individually handled by investigators within their district. If Caltrans is deemed liable, we will reimburse expenses, so claimants need to keep receipts.
  • If investigators deem Caltrans to not be at fault, the claimant has the right to take CT to small claims court.
  • Otherwise, the state does not incur the risk of personal vehicles while driving on the highways and interstates. It is up to each driver to have adequate insurance for damage done to their cars while driving. All drivers assume some risk while driving on the roads.

The Caltrans website includes instructions on how to file a claim for damage, but you need to note the county in which the damage occurred. Each county in California is covered by a specific Caltrans District Claims Office so make sure you know what district where the damage happened before filing your claim. CLICK HERE for the list of districts. Once you know that, CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON HOW TO SUBMIT A CLAIM.

If your claim of damage is OVER $10,000 you have to submit it to the California Government Claims Program.

We're not sure how long it'll take to hear back about a claim, but given the number of people affected by potholes, including several of our own employees, we figure it'll take awhile.

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