Potholes aren’t just a common annoyance; they can also cause significant damage to your vehicle. If your vehicle has been damaged or you have been injured because of a pothole, you might wonder how to claim compensation for pothole damage. Scroll down for some helpful advice.
How to Claim Compensation for Pothole Damage
Do you know how to claim compensation for pothole damage in Missouri?
If the pothole was located on a highway or state road, you will file your claim with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). MoDOT has an online claim form that you can complete to claim compensation for damage caused to your car. If the pothole was located on a city street, you should report it to the city. MoDOT does maintain some roads in cities across the state, including some in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City. You can ask the city where you live whether it maintains the road where the pothole is located or if MoDOT does so that you know where to file your claim. However, filing a claim for compensation does not necessarily mean that you will receive it. Instead, you might need to show that the government was negligent to recover compensation.
Proving Governmental Liability
In order for you to recover money for vehicle damage caused by a pothole, the government must have been negligent. With potholes, this generally means that the government was aware of the pothole’s existence but failed to reasonably repair it. For example, if a new pothole appeared in the road 10 minutes before you drove over it, you will not be likely to recover compensation. By contrast, if there is a large pothole in the middle of the road that has existed for months and has damaged multiple vehicles, it may be more likely that you will be able to recover compensation. You must be able to present evidence that the government either knew or should have known about the pothole’s existence but failed to take any corrective action.
Rules for Filing Claims Against the Government
While Missouri’s general personal injury statute of limitations is five years from the date of your accident under R.S.Mo. § 516.140, there are special rules in place for filing claims against the state or a municipality. The deadline for filing a claim for compensation against the government is 90 days, and you will need to submit the claim form provided by the government. Since the rules for governmental claims are different and you might be uncertain whether you should file your claim with the state or a municipality, it may be a good idea for you to contact an attorney for help with filing your pothole damage claim.
What Happens If the Government Denies My Claim?
After you file your claim for damages with MoDOT or a municipality, the government will investigate your claim. It can then either deny or accept your claim. If it accepts your claim, you will be paid damages. However, if the government denies your claim, you will then have the option of filing a formal lawsuit against the state or city. Depending on the amount of damages you are claiming, your lawsuit might be filed in either small claims court or regular civil court. Small claims court in Missouri places a cap on the amount in dispute at $5,000. If your damages claim is for $5,000 or less, you can file your lawsuit in small claims court without an attorney. However, if your damages exceed $5,000 and you suffered injuries in an accident caused by a pothole, you will file your lawsuit in the regular civil court. Your lawyer can help you determine the appropriate court in which to file your lawsuit.
Get Help from an Experienced Lawyer
Pothole damage is a nuisance for many drivers in Missouri. If your vehicle was damaged by a pothole, or you had an accident because of a pothole, you should talk to an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave to learn about your options. Call us today for a free consultation at 417-322-2222 or contact us online.