ZERO Payouts in Pa. for Pothole Claims - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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ZERO Payouts in Pa. for Pothole Claims

NBC10 Investigators find Pennsylvania denied every single claim this year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC10's Mitch Blacher explains how potholes are costing drivers and what the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is doing to solve the problem. (Published Friday, April 3, 2015)

    Don't expect a penny back if you hit a pothole in Pennsylvania and have to pay for car repairs.

    Even though the commonwealth allows drivers to file claims for reimbursement, the NBC10 Investigators found every single claim filed this year has been denied. Zero payouts at a time when the State Department of Transportation is spending more to fill potholes than at any time in the past five years -- $47 million on 80,000 tons of pothole-filling material since January 1.

    "It wasn't my fault. I couldn't avoid it," Reading resident Brian Berger said of a pothole on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

    Berger said he spent more than $1,200 repairing two bent rims and replacing two tires. Berger did not file a claim for reimbursement but does feel the government should bear some liability for the damage.

    Pennsylvania State Representative Scott Petri said the state's pothole liability law is meant to protect taxpayers.

    "Can you imagine the cost to the commonwealth and its municipalities if they had to send a lawyer to every pothole case?" he said. "It would probably bankrupt some of our municipalities."

    A review of state law across the Delaware Valley reveals drivers impacted by pothole damage have little recourse.

    Pennsylvania and Delaware government agencies are immune from civil liability related to pothole property damage. New Jersey law allows pothole related damage payments as long as they are documented and reported within 90 days of the damage.

    Rep. Petri said he plans to explore a pothole victim's fund, which would help mitigate property loss or damage from potholes.

    "It would have to be enough of a fund that it’s not just the first hundred people and then oh we don't have enough money," he said. "That would frustrate people more.”