Who is Responsible for Pothole Damage Repair?
March 23, 2020
After a long Michigan winter, most of us are ready for spring. However, there is one sign of spring we would rather avoid: the costly craters known as potholes. These nuisances can do more than destroy our tires or damage our suspension system. Pothole repair for vehicles can be expensive and often not covered by insurance. In addition, potholes can be dangerous – even deadly – if they cause a driver to lose control. If you are injured or your car is damaged, who is responsible? Here is a guide to getting the compensation you deserve.
Does Michigan law cover pothole repair damage?
Michigan law does include provisions for pothole damage, but several exceptions and conditions make it difficult for drivers to recover repair costs.
MCL 691.1402 states, “Each governmental agency having jurisdiction over a highway shall maintain the highway in reasonable repair so that it is reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.”
However, another statute, MCL 691.1403, says the governmental agency must have known about the pothole for at least 30 days without commencing repairs within “a reasonable time.”
Furthermore, many municipalities use governmental immunity laws to deny claims for pothole damage repairs.
How do I file a claim for pothole repair damage?
Despite the above obstacles, you may still want to file a claim for reimbursement of your repair costs. If so, here are some steps to take:
- Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is only responsible for state trunk lines (roads beginning with M, I or US). For damage under $1,000, you can file a claim on the MDOT website, www.michigan.gov/mdot. For claims over $1,000, you should consult an accident attorney about filing a lawsuit.
- If the road is managed by a county, city or township, call the office or visit the website of the appropriate municipality.
- Take photos of the pothole as well as your damaged vehicle.
- Save receipts and other documentation relating to the damage and repair costs.
- If there are witnesses, ask for their names and phone numbers in case you need to contact them later.
- You can find out whether the municipality knew about the pothole by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
In addition, drivers should report hazardous potholes to the appropriate municipalities even when there is no damage.
Will my Michigan no-fault coverage pay for pothole repairs for my vehicle?
If your no-fault policy includes collision coverage, you may be able to claim pothole damage. However, you may be responsible for paying the deductible specified by your policy. And, depending on your insurance company, you could experience a rate increase at your next renewal period.
What if I am injured in an accident caused by a pothole?
If you are injured in a pothole-related accident, your injuries would be covered under your Michigan no-fault policy. This includes situations where a crash occurs because you (or another driver) hits a pothole or swerved to avoid one.
“We may be driving fewer miles these days, but accidents still happen,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “If you or a loved one is injured, contact us as soon as possible. Despite the current disruption, our experienced accident lawyers are here for you. We’re working remotely every day to make sure you obtain the best financial outcome.”
Michigan accident law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.