Believe it or not, there is recourse in North Carolina for claiming pothole damages. But it’s about as tricky to win a case as navigating the infrastructural minefield that brought you here in the first place.
Contact your insurance company.
Find out the deductible and potential premium increase you’d incur if you were to submit an insurance claim. If it’s not worth the hike then opt out of submitting an insurance claim altogether. No record will appear on your claims history for simply inquiring so it can’t hurt.
Submit a claim for damages to the North Carolina.
Before submitting a claim for damages, be aware that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is not liable for damage to tires or suspension systems from road conditions (like potholes). However, damage to steering, wheel rims, alignment, hubcaps, and other parts can be claimed for compensation. In addition, the motorist must show town authorities were aware of the pothole in question and yet did not repair it within a reasonable delay.
Motorists have 15 days after the pothole incident to submit a claim by registered mail to the NCDOT. Authorities are not necessarily going to accept your claim, but it’s certainly within your rights to file one.
To report a claim, use the NCDOT county directory for concerns such as potholes and send an e-mail directly to DOT engineers. Next complete this claim form and submit it to the appropriate county DOT office.
File a lawsuit.
A motorist can sue the town for damage on grounds of carelessness, negligence, or misconduct if he or she can prove, once again, that DOT authorities were aware of the pothole but did not repair it within a reasonable delay.
Motorists have a six-month window to file a lawsuit. The case goes through Small Claims Court if reported damages are less than $5,000 (which is most likely in the case of pothole damage) and no lawyer need be involved.
Burden of proof is on the motorist.
Winning a lawsuit and/or a claim against the North Carolina Department of Transportation for vehicular damage from potholes is no easy feat. As previously mentioned, the state is not liable for tire or suspension system damage so the repairs will have to exclude the latter parts in order for a case to hold up. In addition, the motorist must prove the city was aware of the pothole and neglected to fix it within a reasonable delay.
Present a solid case.
• Take pictures of the pothole.
• Gather witnesses who were aware of the pothole and how long it was in disrepair (e.g., passengers, residents, motorists, local merchants, etc.)
• Have a repair estimate from a recognized garage indicating the damage was on car parts other than tires and/or suspension.
• Present proof of the date the pothole was reported (e.g., email to the town, letter, etc.)