What to do if a pothole on a Michigan road damages your vehicle


When your vehicle is damaged by a pothole, you can file a claim with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Claims are often denied, however, according to MDOT.

Filing a claim

To file a claim, the pothole must have been on a state trunk line. Typically, trunk lines are freeways, such as I-94, M-14 and US-10. The jurisdiction of roads can be verified by contacting your local MDOT office.

When filing a claim, the specific location of the pothole is needed. This includes the trunk line number, direction of travel, lane of travel and name of the nearest crossroad, as well as the distance from that road.

Damage claims less than $1,000 are filed with MDOT. If damage exceeds $1,000, a lawsuit must be filed against MDOT.

The state will only consider damages not covered by insurance.

Michigan law requires that drivers filing claims must prove that the government knew about a pothole and had time to repair it, or that the pothole existed for more than 30 days, according to MDOT.

To file a claim, drivers must:

-Fill out this form. Forms must be signed and notarized for consideration.

-Attach documentation to support the claim, such as copies of car repair estimates or copies of actual bills paid for out-of-pocket repairs.

-Return the completed form and documentation to the MDOT region or Transportation Service Center office located in the county in which the incident occurred.

Minimizing pothole damage 

According to MDOT, if a pothole cannot be avoided, the best way to minimize vehicle damage is to slow down but release the brakes before hitting the hole. This method will allow the car to better absorb the impact.

MDOT also suggests hitting a pothole with straight wheels, as an angled hit is more likely to cause damage.

Tires that are not properly inflated can also increase the chances of a vehicle being damaged. Make sure the tires have the right amount of air, and that the vehicle’s suspension and steering are in good condition.

Checking for damage

After hitting a pothole, look at tires and rims to see if there is any visible damage. Note any bulging or cuts in the tire.

Also, pay attention to how the vehicle is driving. Cars damaged by a pothole may pull to the side and need an alignment. 

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