Pothole damage your vehicle? Here are tips on how to get reimbursed


Potholes are back, and wrecking vehicles all over Michigan. One wrong tire-dip into the missing concrete, will definitely test the toughness of your vehicles shocks, suspension, tie-rods and rims.  

What causes potholes?  Michigan Department of Transportation website explains:

Potholes occur when snow and ice melt as part of Michigan's seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. The resulting water then seeps beneath the pavement through cracks caused by the wear and tear of traffic. As the temperatures cool to freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise. As the weight of traffic continues to pound on this raised section – and the temperatures once again rise above freezing – a shallow divot occurs under the surface and the pavement breaks, forming a pothole. A pothole is typically fixed by cleaning out the loose debris and filling it with hot and cold asphalt patch.

The most common ailments from potholes include tire and wheel damage. Unfortunately, I was one of them. I hit a pothole so hard, it not only cracked the rim, but also left a bubble in the side of the tire.  Luckily, I only had a that good insurance in place, so it only cost me $13 for a new tire. 

Repairs following a nasty impact can average about $200 for a new tire, but can easily exceed that if a tie-rod breaks, a ball joint fractures or a wheel must be replaced.

Can I get reimbursed? Yes, but it's really difficult. You first need to identify what kind of road you were driving on — state, county, or city— and file your claim with the appropriate agency. 

Then, you’ll likely have to prove that the government in charge of that roadway, “knew of the condition and had an opportunity to repair it, or that the condition existed for more than 30 days" -according to Wayne County public service department.

State roads include those that begin with the letters I, M, or U.S. MDOT, writes online that the “majority of claims are denied under governmental immunity laws.”

The State of Michigan reimbursed only nine of the 267 pothole claims for $1,000 or less made during fiscal year 2017, according to the Lansing State Journal. 

Here’s where to go depending where you fall victim to potholes (information is according to agency websites):

State roads:

Claims with the state of Michigan can be filed with MDOT. The department advises motorists whose vehicles have been damaged to contact the MDOT office in the region where the damage occurred.

For claims that are $1,000 or less, motorists can use this PDF form available on MDOT’s site.

For claims exceeding $1,000, motorists will have to file a lawsuit against MDOT.

Wayne County:

A vehicle damage claim form is available online and can be returned by mail or in person.

Information and requirements include: date of accident, exact time of accident, exact location of accident, estimate or receipt for any vehicle repair needed as a result of damage, and a photograph of damage and/or road problem.

Oakland County:

Information that can be sent with the claim include: copies of car repair bills and proof of Michigan no-fault automobile insurance for mini-tort claims. Optional items include: photographs, diagrams, and police reports.

Claims can be mailed, emailed, or filed online at the road commission’s website.

Macomb County:

Motorists whose vehicles were damaged on Macomb County roads can fill out and mail this form and expect to hear back within 21 days.

City of Detroit:

WDET shared this form that motorists can use to file a claim in Detroit. 


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