The Chicago Tribune opinion section recently reported on how pothole season is affecting Chicagoans this year.
Each winter season in Chicagoland is accompanied by the dreaded “pothole season,” a period of time that spans from the heart of winter until the spring, when potholes are rampant in the streets. From tiny potholes to potholes as large as a car, Chicagoans are feeling each bump in the road as they drive over it. Some drivers try to avoid the holes, swerving out of their own lane across double yellow lines. This is a dangerous practice that can cause accidents between vehicles.
Anyone who has ever driven over a pothole understands the potential damage that it can cause to a vehicle. A pothole could cause damaged to an axle, jolt a vehicle out of alignment, bend tire rims or even damage the vehicle’s suspension. Not only is the property damage inconvenient and often expensive, but driving over potholes can also be bad for the driver, jarring the neck and spine.
While work crews are feverishly working to fill as many potholes as possible, the task is nearly impossible to complete. As such, both the state of Illinois and the City of Chicago have developed procedures for submitting a property damage claim for damage to vehicles caused by potholes.
City of Chicago Claims
The City of Chicago has a property damage claim submission program in which claimants can submit damage claims and be reimbursed for their expenses. This is the same form that is used when a Chicagoan is involved in an accident with a city employee, such as a municipal worker, and thus many of the fields are inapplicable to pothole damage claims. The claimant must submit two written estimates of the damage and a copy of the paid bill. Reimbursement of the claim may take a long time to be processed.
Illinois Department of Transportation Claims
The procedure for submitting a claim to the Illinois Department of Transportation is slightly different. The form cannot be obtained online, but rather the claim form must be mailed from the district claim office (the claim office located in district in which the incident occurred) responsible for the investigation of the particular claim.
IDOT may be liable for your vehicle damage if the investigation determines that IDOT was negligent in not repairing a known pothole in a reasonable amount of time. In other words, IDOT must have had notice of the specific pothole and must have had a reasonable amount of time in which to fix it, but failed to do so, thus causing damage to your vehicle. If the pothole that caused damage to your vehicle was not previously reported, IDOT would not have had notice that the hole existed, and thus would not be liable to you.
Contacting a Vehicular Accident Attorney
Neither IDOT nor the City of Chicago assumes liability for circumstances that are outside of its control, such as weather-related vehicle accidents, property damage caused by other motorists or vehicles (save for city or IDOT employees), or accidents due to unreported debris in the road. If you have been involved in an accident with another driver, you need to contact an experienced car accident attorney. Contact Willens Law Offices today for a free consultation, either online or by telephone at (312) 957-4166.
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