California is rated one of the worst 10 states in the U.S. for road conditions. In 2017, a Rural Roads Report estimated that 38 percent of California’s roadways are in poor condition and require repairs. One of the primary problems on California roadways? Potholes.
In Southern California, potholes are a serious problem for motorists. Bent rims, flat tires, dents and scratches, alignment issues – potholes are a headache and an expense that frustrates many drivers on California roadways. But who pays for the damage? Motorists are not responsible for maintaining road conditions, and may not have a choice but to hit the pothole rather than other cars or structures.
Should they be financially responsible for damage?
Can the City Pay for Damage?
Generally, if your car is damaged by a pothole, you will file a collision claim with your insurance. This makes you and your carrier responsible for repairs, which may not be as expensive as your deductible. This could also make your rates increase, as the accident is considered your fault.
Some cities will cover damage from potholes, but these claims are often fought. Los Angeles, for example, only covers around 10 percent of pothole damage claims. An investigation in 2013 showed that 6,600 claims were received between 2003 and 2012. Around 70 percent of claims were rejected, 20 percent were never ruled on, and only 10 percent (627 claims) were approved.
What this suggests is that yes, the city CAN pay for damages, but often will not. This leaves motorists in an unfortunate position of being financially responsible for something completely outside their control or liability.
What Can Motorists Do?
The pothole problem is well-documented in Southern California. If your car has been damaged by a pothole, and your claim has been denied by the city, contact an attorney to find out if you can appeal, or if other options may be available to cover your repairs.