In the best-case scenario, a pothole is a minor inconvenience and an unsightly mark on an otherwise smooth surface. In the worst-case scenario, a pothole can cause considerable damage to your vehicle or even an accident. Depending on the depth of the pothole and the speed at which you hit it, a pothole can cause considerable damage to your vehicle and physical health. If it does, you may wonder if you can file a pothole damage claim and, if so, against whom. 

When can you file a pothole damage claim?

According to The Balance, if you have car insurance, you can file a pothole damage claim against your own policy. Your insurance carrier would consider the incident a “collision” in which you were at fault. As such, the insurer would apply your collision deductible, and it is very likely your rates would go up due to your filing an at-fault claim. If the dollar amount of the damage sustained is less than the rate hike, you may just want to pay for repairs out of pocket. 

If you or your vehicle sustained considerable damage as a result of the collision with the pothole — or if it caused a two- or several-car accident — you may be able to seek reimbursement. To do so, you would need to first figure out whether the city, county or state owns the damaged road. You should then talk with an attorney to determine if it is even worth your while to file a claim against a local or state government. 

The importance of documenting everything

If you decide to pursue a claim, you will need plenty of documentation. Documentation should include photos of the offending pothole, photos of the damage to your vehicle, reports that indicate the date and time of the incident and at least two different estimates for vehicle repairs.

Depending on the jurisdiction, you may also need to provide proof that the road commission had knowledge of the pothole’s existence for 30 days or more and that it did nothing to repair it. This last bit of evidence is the most difficult to come by and is a large part of the reason why plaintiffs rarely succeed in pothole claims against the government.