Curious Who Pays For Pothole Damage

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

 Who is responsible if your car becomes damaged by a pothole?  You or the town/city where the pothole is?  – Karen, W. Roxbury

Potholes are opening up right now and I can only cringe when I think about what the roads are going to look like in the spring.   A big one erupted yesterday on I-95 south near Dedham

I’m already seeing hubcaps popping up in the snow.

The answer to Karen’s question is- it depends on where you hit the pothole.

If it’s a road that is maintained by a city or a town you can file a claim with that community since it’s their responsibility to maintain the road.  In Boston you can do that online right here.

For most other communities you can file a claim with the city or town clerk.

But if you hit a pothole on a state road you’re out of luck, because state law gives the state a pass on that.  The state has no liability if a car is damaged.  The only liability comes if a person is injured.

Of course your insurance should cover car damage but remember that your deductible will apply.

Drive carefully. What are you curious about?

What are the conditions of the roads where you do a lot of driving?


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  • L West

    A few years ago, my tire was flattened by a pot hole. I submitted a claim to the town where it happened. It was a town road. Their insurance company denied the claim. Why?-the reason given was that MA General Law states the town must know that the pot hole exists. If the town doesn’t know it won’t pay the claim. Now,what town would admit to knowing about a pot hole?

    • C. DaCunha

      The town of Dartmouth through their insurer Trident claimed the same as described in the other messages … from their letter “In order for a municipality to be found responsible for damages caused by alleged defects in the public way, the municipality must have received sufficient, prior notice of the defect. Our investigation reveals that the Town was not made aware of a pothole on Dartmouth Street in this area until after your accident.” This was not about the money, because I would have donated the $169 to the United Way if necessary, but to simply test how the system worked and unfortunately it doesn’t because unless one was to somehow lead a Judge to grant a broad based subpoena of every Dartmouth town employee, there is no reasonable way to ever know if someone within town government knew about a large pothole on a main road in front of a Post Office. I’m considering moving the claim forward to Court just to test the entire, silly State Law that doesn’t seem to make much sense, as every town is likely to claim ignorance of a road hazard without any means for a Plaintiff to ever prove them differently.

  • macmum

    Several years ago I lost a tire and rim on Rte 28 in North Reading…a state road. I put in a claim and they never even responded… I’m guessing that unless you want to spend time and money on a law suit, you’re going to have to suck it up and pay for it yourself. Because after going to all the trouble, there’s no guarrantee they will pay and you will lose money trying to make them. Besides the giant potholes, there are GIANT loopholes on the law that protect municipalites

  • taxedout

    Man you think the state is going to pay up??? We have the best roads in the country that money, money, and money Can’t buy!!!!

  • Road Crews Struggle To Keep Up With Potholes « CBS Boston

    […] Read: Who Pays For Pothole Damage […]

  • denise

    Leominster MA just sicks their overpaid lawyers on you – even when you don’t file a claim but report it to the PD who already know about it! So even though they know… they still don’t pay! Lies lies lies…

  • Maryellen

    $570 in damages to my new car on Route 1 North Attleboro Mass. I also had to wait 3 hours to be towed home and another missed day from work having it towed to the dealership. Route 1 is a state maintained road and I was just notified they are not responsible for repairs! Nice of them to send me a copy of the law and it’s funny how quick they are to send out a tough luck letter! As of last week the road is sitill in disrepair. Obvioulsly no incentive to repair pot holes if our state are not held responsible for the damage that is causes. Shame on the state of Massachusettes!!!

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