INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Drive down the road in Indianapolis, and it won’t take long to find a few potholes.
“There are holes everywhere,” said one driver downtown. “You’re driving in and out, weaving in and out, trying to miss the chuckholes.”
A problem, she says, that is getting out of hand.
“Bad enough that people are damaging tires and rims, it’s very costly.”
If you’re hoping the City will help out with that cost, think again. In all of 2018, 1,322 claims were made for pothole damage with the City, but just 16 were approved. That’s roughly 1% of all claims.
“This time of year there’s so many new potholes,” said attorney Bradley Lohmeier of Saeed & Little, LLP. “It’s very hard for the City to get out there and fix them.”
Lohmeier says when you submit a claim online, you’re actually submitting a tort claim notice to the City. Not only do you have to prove damage, you have to prove the City knew about the pothole and had reasonable time to fix it. You have to prove your damages were caused by the City’s negligence.
“When there are new ones popping up every day, it’s also hard to show that they knew about that specific one,” Lohmeier said. “They’re tracking and monitoring, but it’s hard to get out there if new ones keep showing up.”
The Office of Corporation Counsel, which handles the claims, declined to go on camera but said the following in an email:
“The Tort Claim process is a statutorily required process that is a precondition to any lawsuit against the City. It affords the City an opportunity to investigate claims prior to someone filing a lawsuit. There is no statutory obligation to settle tort claims pre-suit. The City’s Tort Claim determinations are made on a case by case basis based on its investigation and the evidence verified during each investigation.”
DPW says crews are working as hard as they can, and have filled more than 2,000 requests this month. However, the weather makes it difficult to keep up.
“If it’s too wet outside, the asphalt won’t adhere to the pavement, so the hole is not going to be filled correctly,” said DPW Public Information Officer Charnay Pickett. “We need to make sure it’s dry out, and also if it’s too cold it’s a little more difficult to patch that as well.”
While Lohmeier assumed the number of approved claims would be low, he is surprised it’s this low.
“It surprises me,” Lohmeier said. “You think there’d be more than 1% that the City knows about.”
Lohmeier says even if your request is denied, that’s not the end of the road. The claim is an initial notice.
You can still move forward with a lawsuit.
“A lot of times these are handled in small claims courts, and I do know people who have been successful filing a tort claim notice and taking the City to small claims court to get their tire or a part of their car paid for,” Lohmeier said, noting those weren’t all pothole related. “It does happen, however you do have to file that tort claim, the City has to know about it in advance and you’ve gotta show they had an opportunity to repair it.”
To file a claim with the City, FOLLOW THIS LINK.