If A Pothole Trashes Your Car In Maine, Is The Town Responsible?
Pothole season came in like a lion this year.
In the Bangor area, we've been hearing our fair share about potholes. It's made the news, we've all talked about it on the radio, and it's pretty much the butt of every conceivable joke you hear around the water cooler. For some reason, likely the weird weather we've been having, it seems particularly bad this year.
I've seen stories on social media about people blowing out multiple tires, front-end damage, people bottoming out in a pothole.... you name it. I've hit a pothole so hard that I actually patted my car on the dashboard and said I was sorry. But when your car gets destroyed by a pothole, who foots the bill for repairs?
Could you sue? Can a town or city be held liable?
Short answer: Yes. But.... it hardly ever happens. According to WGME, there are also certain criteria that must be met, in accordance with Maine's Highway Defect Act. First off, it has to be a public road for which the town is normally responsible. You're not getting a new tire for bottoming out on the camp road.
Also, you'd also have to prove the damage was definitely caused by the defect in the road and not a previous defect related to your car. The town also has to have known about the "defect" in the road for at least 24 hours. If they didn't know about it previously, they can't have had a chance to fix it.
And, all this will have to be done within 180 days of the damage itself. You can' get your tire fixed the following fall when you put the snows back on, and then say it's the town's fault.
How often do people get compensated?
It would seem not very often. I'm certainly not implying a town would be dishonest, but likely the burden of proof is on you in the whole process. It's always worth reporting it, because you might possibly be paid out, but the town needs to know about the pothole just the same. Even if you don't get any money, the road needs to be fixed.
It's a messy process all the way around. Right from the beginning when you struck the nasty pothole in the first place. In my experience, it's never worth the hassle of the pursuit of money. You'll likely just be doing on principle. Nobody's ever gotten rich on principle, now have they?