Caleb Collins was turning off Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks when his car jolted and made a loud sound.
“I thought the tire exploded. I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know if the axle split in half or the wheel fell off or something, because it was a pretty significant impact,” Collins said.
He pulled over and saw two of his tires were blown out. He walked back to the intersection and realized he’d hit a pothole.
Collins’ car was towed to a repair shop, which was covered by insurance. But he had to pay $340 for new tires, something he thinks the city should cover.
“I believe they should be financially responsible for the damage because we are taxpayers and we’re paying for the maintenance of the roads,” Collins said.
But the NBC4 I-Team learned it doesn’t always work that way.
During the recent January storms, the city received more than 3,400 complaints about potholes. And if one of those potholes damages your car, the city isn’t necessarily on the hook to reimburse you.
NBCLA I-Team investigative reporters break local news on stories that affect our community directly. Here are the latest investigations out of LA and SoCal.
According to state law, the city has to know about the pothole, and then it’s allowed “sufficient time” to fix it. What’s considered “sufficient?” The city wouldn’t say, but it did tell NBC4 it’s committed to repairing potholes within three days.
However, the I-Team learned your chances of getting reimbursed for damage to your car isn’t likely. Last year, 824 drivers filed pothole claims, but the city only paid 182 of them, about 22%. The year before, the city paid just 24% of pothole claims.
Collins filed a claim and is waiting to hear back from the city. In the meantime, he’s trying to avoid any bumps in the road.
“It was a very significant…annoyance, I guess,” he said.
Steps in filing a pothole claim:
- File a claim.
- Be sure to include as much documentation as possible, like repair bills and pictures.
- The city may request more documentation.
- The city’s response will come in four to six weeks.