Action 9 Investigates: How local agencies avoid paying when potholes damage your car

Action 9 Investigates: How local agencies avoid paying when potholes damage your car

NORTH CAROLINA — You suddenly hit a pothole, and you would think Charlotte or the state would help you pay for the damage. That’s what Nikki McRae thought when it happened to her.

McRae went out to eat near Highway 51 and Park Road last year.

“I made the right turn to go get the food and I hit a pothole,” said McRae.

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She says the pothole busted both tires on the passenger side of her car.

“Both tires deflated instantly and I was stuck on the side of the road,” said McRae

She said she spent about $300 of her own money to replace the, but her car has other damage which she can’t afford to repair right now.

She filed a claim with the city of Charlotte, but city officials denied the claim.

“It’s not fair. It’s not right as a taxpaying citizen,” McRae said. “I’m trying to make ends meet and this isn’t something that I should have to be worried about when it wasn’t any fault of my own.”

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke hears so many stories like this, he decided to request numbers.

He asked the City how many drivers filed claims for pothole damage within city limits for 2020. The answer: 65.

He asked how many of those the city approved. The answer: just two.

He also asked the state of North Carolina how many claims it got for pothole damage on state roads in Mecklenburg County last year. The state told him 50 claims. It has processed more than half of those and, so far, approved zero.

Here’s how the system works. If a pothole damages your car:

  1. First, document the damage.
  2. Then, figure out who maintains the road: the City or State.
  3. Then, submit your claim to the right one online.

To submit a claim to Charlotte, click here.

To submit a claim to North Carolina, click here.

You then have to prove two things:

  1. the government knew about the pothole (which is nearly impossible for the average driver).
  2. it had enough time to fix it, but didn’t.

On the city of Charlotte side of things, the Risk Management Department rules on your claim. If it denies it, you can appeal to the Claims Manager and then the City Attorney’s office.

On the state side, the North Carolina Attorney General’s office rules on your claim. If it says no, you can appeal to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Of course, you can always sue, but it may be hard to win.

At the very least, report the pothole. It helps the next driver because then the city or state can’t argue they didn’t know about it. Of course, road crews still get a certain amount of time to fix it.

To report on a city of Charlotte-maintained street: call 311, report it through the CLT+ app, or fill out this form.

To report on a state of North Carolina-maintained street, use this form.

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