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Spring has arrived, and Chicago is thawing out from a winter of snow and ice. As green grass and flowers begin to emerge, so does another spring tradition – potholes. These yearly and unwelcome visitors to our roads and highways are not only aggravating but also dangerous, causing car accidents, injuries, and property damage.

Although potholes can happen in any type of climate, they tend to form most often near the end of winter, when snow and ice melt and seep into cracks in the road’s surface. Then, when the roads freeze up again, the water expands, forcing the cracks to swell and break, causing potholes. Hitting a pothole unexpectedly can cause sudden and serious damage to your vehicle, like:

  • Bend the wheel rims
  • Damage the exhaust or engine
  • Destroy the shocks and struts
  • Knock out the steering alignment
  • Puncture or flatten a tire

Who is responsible for damage caused by a pothole? Can you simply submit a claim to your car insurance? The answers aren’t as easy as you think, and often depend on the fine print in your insurance policy.

Does my auto insurance cover pothole damage?

There are many different types of car insurance policies, so it’s possible your policy covers damage to your vehicle from a pothole accident. If you have collision coverage, you most likely have pothole damage coverage. However, there are two things drivers should know regarding pothole damage coverage and car insurance:

  1. Although collision coverage does typically cover potholes, when you make a collision claim, it will usually void any “safe driver” guarantees or discounts on your policy.
  2. Sometimes making a claim can lead to a rise in your rates, so consider your options carefully.

If you decide to make a claim, you probably have a deductible to pay first. You should consider whether or not it makes sense to file a claim depending on the cost of repairs versus your deductible.

For example, let’s say your deductible is $500 for this type of damage to your vehicle, and the cost of repairs to your vehicle is $600, it may not make financial sense to file an insurance claim. Here’s why. First, the claim will end up paying you only $100 after you pay your deductible. Also – and this is important to note – because pothole damage falls under your collision insurance, your insurer may raise your rates. The $100 you pay now can save you hundreds more in the future.

However, if the pothole causes a major amount of damage, filing a claim may be your best bet.

Is the city of Chicago responsible for pothole damage?

Chicago and all its surrounding areas have a legal responsibility to maintain and repair its public roads. If people are injured or their vehicles damaged in accidents stemming from potholes, the city may be held responsible. In fact, Illinois has their own program for citizens to recoup some of the costs from damage experienced from potholes.

The Chicago City Clerk’s website provides a form for residents to fill out with details of their accident. Claims can take up to a year to resolve, and not all claims are approved. However, an experienced car accident attorney can work with you to ensure your paperwork is properly filled out with the correct documentation.

If you experienced damage or losses in a Chicago car accident, the attorneys at Gainsberg Law can provide informed legal guidance. To schedule a free consultation, please call 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form.