You’re peacefully driving down the road one day on your regular commute to work, and then – bam! You look up to find that your car has been significantly damaged due to yet another symptom of the city’s negligence: a pothole. Potholes and other such imperfections are everywhere on the street, so drivers must remain vigilant to avoid these hazards. Still, there may be times in which crashing into one is inevitable. When this happens, you must file a claim for compensation for your damaged vehicle. Follow the guidelines below to correctly open your case. 

Filing a Claim for a Pothole Collision

As you would in an accident, it is critical that you document all evidence of the accident, and include your account of what transpired directly before the crash. You must be meticulous in your documentation of all details of your incident. Your insurer, along with the defendant (addressed below), may be unwilling to cooperate, or may otherwise present their best efforts to invalidate your claim. With highly detailed evidence, however, you can circumvent these efforts and procure the precise funds needed for your recovery.

The type of information you must gather in a pothole accident include:

  • Environmental conditions at the time of the crash
  • Witness’ contact information
  • Photo and video evidence of the pothole and the damages incurred
  • A repair estimate from your mechanic

Once you have all the information above, you will need to contact a lawyer. (Filing a claim with your insurance company is the last resort, as they will likely treat the incident as a single-car, at-fault collision.) The car accident lawyer will advise you on how to move forward in your case to retrieve the funds necessary to recover from the crash.

Determining Liability in a Pothole Accident

Addressing liability in such an incident can be quite challenging, primarily because these accidents do not always involve more than one vehicle. Not only must you prove that the collision was not your fault, but you will also need to assign liability for the presence of the pothole in the road. Parties that can be held responsible for such a case include:

  • Department of Transportation (DOT). Your experience when filing a claim with your state’s DOT may vary according to the specific legislation. In California, for example, if the damages incurred from a pothole collision amount to less than $10,000, you can fill out a single-page form for your case. Attach thorough documentation of the crash, demonstrating that the pothole was the direct cause of the damages, and you will receive your due compensation. 
  • The municipality. The city has an obligation to keep roads in good condition so that drivers are safe to operate their vehicles. If they have failed to fulfill this obligation, you can pursue legal action against the municipality and procure your compensation via a lawsuit addressing the appropriate department.

Your lawyer will advise you on which route is best for your incident. With their guidance, you will be protected from the blame of your insurer for the crash and will improve your chances of facing the challenge of using your local municipality or state DOT.