How to get paid for pothole damage - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

How to get paid for pothole damage

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Every year, hundreds of people across the Tri-State file claims hoping to get what can be incredibly costly pothole-related repairs covered.

Mark Hegman is one of them. Hegman did not see the enormous pothole on Elberon Avenue in Cincinnati's west side until it was too late.

"I hit the front tire and then milliseconds later, I hit the same side back tire,” said Hegman.

It left him with hundreds of dollars' worth of bills to cover the cost of being towed as well as new tires.

And Hegman wasn't alone. After he hit the pothole, he saw three other drivers pulled over changing their tires.

“Four people within a matter of 45 minutes,” Hegman said.

NEED TO FILE A CLAIM? Click here for Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana or the City of Cincinnati.

But what makes a pothole claim more likely to receive a payout?

"The more information, the better. If we have photographs, those are always helpful,” said Virginia Woodward, the Executive Director of Kentucky's Board of Claims, which investigates those claims

Larry Whitaker, the Operations Director for Cincinnati's Public Services added, "Where that pothole is, how big it was, when you hit it, what time you hit it, picture of the pothole, picture of the damage.... Anything you can do to substantiate that the incident actually occurred."

To file a claim for damage on a state road like an interstate or state route, there's an online form. In Ohio, you must also pay $25 to file the claim. In Cincinnati, you call a hotline to report the damage.

“The call center would give them the information they would need in order to file the complaint,” said Whitaker.

WHICH ROAD?: These maps will help you find roads in Ohio and Kentucky.

Ultimately, to receive a payout, you have to prove negligence on the part of the city or state.

"Did the city have notice of what caused the damage and have they had a reasonable amount of time to correct it,” Whitaker said.

That means the city or state must have received notice of the pothole and neglected to fix it for a period of time. In Ohio, the standard is what they call a "reasonable" amount of time. In Kentucky, it's three days.

And in Cincinnati, Public Services must be aware of a pothole problem for at least 12 days before the city will pay out a claim.

Since 2011, the city of Cincinnati has paid out 15 percent of the claims received. In Ohio, the number of claims paid is 30 percent, but that includes all claims, not just potholes. And in Kentucky, the Board of Claims breaks it down by county. Claims filed in Boone County from 1981-2011 are paid out at a rate of 21 percent. In Campbell County, that percentage is 12 percent. In Kenton County, 8.7 percent of claims have been paid.

In the case of Mark Hegman, his claim was denied.

“They refused to pay anything. Not the tow truck. Not the two tires. I was out,” said Hegman.

Because, according to Hegman's file, the city didn't know about that pothole for 12 days before he hit it.

While Hegman didn't get a payout, he now has a new approach to driving that so far is paying off.

“I have learned to look down a little bit more than looking ahead to avoid those potholes,” said Hegman.

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