If you have driven on Michigan roadways lately, you surely have encountered a large number of potholes. Potholes are emerging as a major problem late this winter and they are only going to get worse as the weather warms this spring. The conditions of Michigan roads are without a doubt poor at best and there is no doubt that the government is responsible. So the real question is “Can I be reimbursed for pothole damage in Michigan”?
The short answer to this question is yes. Michigan does have a program in place to reimburse drivers. A government agency has a duty to maintain safe roads. It’s stated in MCL 691.1402(1) that the agency which has jurisdiction over the road “shall maintain the highway in reasonable repair so that it is reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.”. If the agency breaches this duty, you may sue for the damages done to your vehicle along with any injuries you may have sustained which includes anything related to pothole damage. Now, the more important question becomes……What is considered “reasonable repair” and how is the agency considered negligent? According to the law, the agency must have had actual or what is referred to as constructive notice in the road before the accident or damage took place. Actual notice means that the city or agency was contacted directly and informed about the pothole. Constructive notice means that they should have known about the defect (pothole) and has reasonable time to fix the defect (pothole). This can be difficult to prove, but it is assumed negligent if it was apparent to an “ordinarily observant person” for 30 days or more. It is not required that the government agency knew about the pothole for longer than 30 days, but it certainly makes your lawsuit much stronger if they did.
Making a Claim Against Your Own Insurance For Pothole Damages
Depending on your auto insurance policy, you can also file a claim against your own insurance company as long as your policy includes collision coverage. You are not required to prove negligence by the government agency responsible for road maintenance. Unfortunately, this claim can increase the costs of your monthly insurance and may not be your best option.
Pothole Accident Checklist in Michigan
If required, go to the nearest hospital or schedule an appointment with your doctor
Take evidence of the accident scene. Take pictures of both the road defect (pothole) and any damage to your vehicle.
Make a police report and find available witnesses
Call your insurance provider
Contact an attorney
The Statute of Limitations for an injury on a defective road is 120 days from the date the injury took place.