Minor potholes are mostly just a nuisance for drivers, but larger ones can cause significant damage to your vehicle, particularly if you were driving at a high speed. If a pothole damaged your car, file a reimbursement claim to recoup your repair costs. There is no guarantee you will be reimbursed; some areas have strict eligibility requirements. Always document the damage before you repair your car, and keep all bills for your records.
Contact your state's Department of Transportation (DOT) to determine its specific procedure for filing a pothole damage claim. Alternatively, contact your city clerk's office if the damage occurred within the city limits. The city of Boston, for example, has specific protocols to follow for pothole damage that occurred within the city.
Ask your state's DOT or your city clerk's office for a pothole damage claims form. In many locations, you may download the form from a website. Before you fill out the claims form, ask whether the damage to your vehicle qualifies for reimbursement. In Michigan, for example, you may be able to file a claim only if the state DOT was aware of the pothole for 30 days without fixing it.
Fill out the pothole damage reimbursement form exactly as instructed. The forms vary from state to state, but typically they request your full name, contact information and details about the damage. Indicate the cost of the damage, and provide names of witnesses, if available. You may also provide your insurance information, information about your vehicle (make and model), weather conditions at the time of the incident and authorization to allow the DOT to inspect your vehicle. Some claims forms require notarization.
Provide any documentation required. This might include photographs and detailed descriptions of the damage, written estimates by mechanics, the bill if you have already repaired the vehicle and police reports, if applicable. You might also include notarized witness statements and photographs of the pothole that caused the damage.
Send the claims package to the address indicated on the form. Depending on where you live, you might need to submit the reimbursement form within a specific time period. In Rhode Island, you must submit the claim within seven days of the incident. Those who acquired the damage in Boston have 30 days to submit a claim.
Some locations require filing fees for claims forms. For example, Boston requires a $5 fee.
- Michigan Department of Transportation: How do I File a Claim for Damages to My Vehicle Caused By a Pothole?
- New York City Comptroller: Claim Against the City of New York Vehicular Property Damage
- State of Rhode Island Department of Transportation: Damage Claim Information
- City Of Boston.gov: Filing a Claim
- Allstate. "Does Car Insurance Cover Pothole Damage?" Accessed March 19, 2020.
- New York State Department of Transportation. "Small Claims." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- New York State Department of Transportation. "Small Claim Instructions." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- Michigan Legislature. "Governmental Liability for Negligence." Accessed March 19, 2020.
Catherine Chase is a professional writer specializing in history and health topics. Chase also covers finance, home improvement and gardening topics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American studies from Skidmore College.