Pothole claim leaves woman responsible for bill

Pothole claim leaves woman responsible for bill


by BILL MCGINTY / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @billwcnc


Posted on July 10, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 11:40 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- We’ve all hit them -- potholes.

"It was dark, it had been raining, and it was filled with water, and I hit it right here, and it was like boom” says Pam Haythe as she describes the night she slammed into a large pothole, which has since been filled in. 

“I literally heard metal scrape the ground and I thought it was my rim and I thought I blew my tire cause the rim actually hit it.”

The pothole is located in Indian Trail just to the right of U.S. Highway 74.

The damage to her 2003 Volkswagen is fairly extensive. The damage estimate to fix it is $1,200 and now the question is, to whom does the hole belong?

It’s important, because if the state owns it, then Haythe might have grounds to file a tort claim and in some cases, the state will reimburse drivers for the cost of the damage.
Jen Thompson with the North Carolina Department of Transportation says the burden of proof is on you the driver. 

“You have to document everything, take pictures and do anything to prove this is what happened, so the state can rule out pre-existing damage on your vehicle,” said Thompson. 

The state may fight your claim if they didn’t know the pothole was there. In 2012, North Carolina received 528 damage claims and paid out $36,175, but to only 51 of the 528 claiming damage.
In Haythe’s case, no one is sure who owns this once deep pothole. The state says it’s not their property, and the man who owns the strip-mall says it’s not his land.  

"Exactly, and he says no it’s the state, which leaves me with a big hole in my car," Haythe said.

She doesn’t want to submit it to her insurance company because the claim might increase her rate. As for submitting a tort claim with the state, an inspector told her it’s not state property so they won’t send the claim to Raleigh.

If you have legitimate damage to your car or truck and you think the state is responsible for not fixing the pothole, you can find the link to the tort claim above, and a list of D.O.T phone numbers below. 

One footnote here, if your car gets damaged in an active construction zone, then you need to follow up with the contractors. It’s not state responsibility until the job is done and certified.
D.O.T numbers: Mecklenburg County – 980-523-0000
Union, Anson Counties – 704-289-1397
Cabarrus, Stanly Counties – 704-982-0104
Cleveland, Gaston Counties – 704-480-2082
Catawba, Lincoln Counties – 704-748-2400
Iredell County – 704-876-3947