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Potholes are a common cause of car damage, especially in areas where the roads see a lot of wear and tear. If you hit a pothole and it causes damage to your car or even an injury, there are a few steps you can take to get compensation for the accident. Here’s what you need to know about filing a pothole claim.

Document your damages.

how can i make a pothole claimBefore you can file any claims, you need to make sure that you have thoroughly documented the entire incident and the damage. Pull over and use your phone to take pictures of the pothole as well as any damage to your car from every angle. The more photos you can take, the better – this will help your case later on. After you’ve taken photos, start noting down your account of what happened. You should note the current weather conditions and any other important factors that affected the incident. This personal account will help claims adjusters get a more accurate idea of exactly what happened.

Report it to the city.

Next, it’s important that you report the incident to the city. Your local department of transportation needs to be aware of large potholes and other road damage so they can fix it right away. Most cities or states have a website and phone number where you can report these issues. If you live in a small town, you may need to go in-person to a government office to file a report. In some cases, you may even be able to file a claim for reimbursement directly from the city before you get an insurance company involved. However, it can be difficult to get these claims approved. For example, in California, only 10 percent of the cases that are filed eventually end up being approved. That’s why it’s so important to document the accident thoroughly – it will drastically increase your chances of getting approval from the city. If you’ve experienced life-changing injuries, you may also have a case to sue the city for negligence. If you think you may have grounds for legal action, talk to a lawyer who specializes in these types of claims to learn more. Government lawsuits tend to have shorter statutes of limitations, so it’s important that you start the litigation process as soon as possible if this is an option you want to pursue.

File an insurance claim.

Next, it’s time to file a claim for reimbursement from your insurance company. Before you do this, go to a trusted local auto mechanic to get your car evaluated. They will give you a quote for the cost of the repairs and can provide a technical assessment of what happened, which will bolster your case. Your insurance company will likely treat your claim at an at-fault accident, which means you’ll need collision coverage to file a claim. If you only have liability coverage, your options are going to be much more limited. The cost of the repairs will also need to be higher than the deductible for you to receive any reimbursement from your insurance company.

Keep in mind that there are some risks that come with filing an insurance claim. Since insurance companies treat these claims as an at-fault accident, you will likely see an increase in your monthly premiums. This increase in monthly payments can really add up over time, so you may want to consider paying for the damages out of pocket if you can afford it. This is a particularly important consideration if you already have a high deductible, since you’ll be paying for at least part of the repairs yourself anyway.

How to prevent pothole damage

Of course, there are always going to be times when running into a pothole is unavoidable. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of this happening. The first thing to do is just to be aware of the potential for potholes and keep your eyes on the road. Avoid driving if you’ve been drinking or taking medication, as this can negatively affect your reaction time.

If you are aware of roads in your area that have large potholes, try to avoid taking that route when you can. If you see a pothole in your area, report it to local officials so they can address it before someone gets hurt. Take pictures and don’t hesitate to contact the city again if the problem isn’t taken care of.

If you’ve hit a pothole and experienced car damage, don’t hesitate to seek compensation for the accident. Your city’s transportation department is responsible for making sure that roads are safe to drive, and should be held accountable when accidents happen. You also may be entitled to compensation from your insurance company.