Massachusetts is known for its chowder, football team, and potholes! Tough winters have left many roads loaded with potholes that could cause damage to your car. Who pays for repairs due to pothole damage depends on a few factors.
Although the average repair cost for pothole-related damage is $306, in some cases the bill can exceed $1,000. Even worse, hitting a pothole or trying to avoid one could cause a crash and personal injuries. Potholes can cause mild to severe damage on your car’s tires, wheels, shocks, and struts, tie rods, ball joints, and other parts.
Many think a town or city is responsible for any damage caused by potholes. That is usually not the case as Massachusetts municipalities and towns do not take responsibility for damages caused by potholes. There are a couple of laws regarding damage caused by potholes and other defects in local and state roadways that are important to consider. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 81, Section 18 controls both what MA courts deem “defects” in the road and the rules that MassDOT must follow if they receive notice from you. A defect is “anything in the condition of the way that renders it unsafe or inconvenient for ordinary travel”. This can be potholes, bumps, ruts, car parts, or other debris. Both this law and the case law state that there can be no recovery for property damage, only personal injury limited to $4,000.00, in actions against the Commonwealth due to road defects. If you are harmed in a pothole-related accident, you must file a claim with the MassDOT and they will investigate. If their investigation finds that the area was in an active construction zone, they will forward your claim to the contractor.
So what should you do if you hit a pothole? If you have collision coverage on your vehicle, you can file a claim for certain types of pothole damages. Your liability insurance provides coverage if you or someone driving your car hits a pedestrian or another car due to a collision with a pothole. Most collision coverage is sold with a deductible amount that you would have to pay. If you have a high deductible, the pothole damage repair costs may not exceed your deductible. If you think you have a potential pothole claim situation, it’s always a good idea to contact your insurance company to make sure you’re covered.
There are a few simple things you can do to help protect you and your car from pothole damage. Making a habit of checking your tires for proper inflation can help prevent a flat tire from hitting a pothole. When driving, eliminate distractions and look ahead for roadway defects. Always practice safe driving by maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles. Be wary of puddles that may conceal potholes. Check your surroundings for collision threats before attempting to drive around a pothole. If you cannot avoid one, slow down, but release the brakes and straighten the steering wheel just before impact to help minimize any damage. Also, be sure to notify MassDOT of any potholes by calling their Pothole Hotline (857-368-4636).
Zammito Insurance handles all automobile claims. Contact us at (781) 762-6732 with any questions regarding automobile insurance options.