Potholes are a serious problem for drivers in Chicago, causing damage to vehicles and raising the risk of traffic accidents that can lead to serious injury or death. Following periods of heavy snow and freezing temperatures, potholes develop into a bigger problem in the Chicagoland area, making it important for drivers to be aware of them and the risks they pose.
How Potholes Develop in Chicago
Over time, asphalt begins to crack as it ages. As water seeps into the cracks and freezes, this causes the asphalt to expand, which further weakens it. Following periods of cold weather and asphalt thaws, potholes develop as vehicles travel over the asphalt. Apart from cold weather and subsequent expansion of the asphalt, potholes could also develop from natural wear and tear as vehicles continually travel over the road. Additionally, the heat of the summer sun and periodic rainwater may also contribute to the formation of potholes.
Regardless of how they develop, potholes can cause serious damage to vehicles or may even cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, resulting in potentially serious accidents.
Potential Dangers of Potholes
Hitting potholes can cause serious damage to vehicles, including damage to suspension and shocks, but they can also cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. In many instances, potholes can cause accidents involving trucks and motorcycles, which more frequently result in serious injuries due to the vulnerability of motorcycle drivers and passengers and the size and weight of large trucks.
When vehicles make contact with deep potholes, the impact can be equivalent to a crash at 35 miles per hour. The risks of serious accidents and injuries involving potholes make it necessary for drivers to exercise caution on the road and for cities to take steps to eliminate potholes.
Filing Pothole Damage Claims
Potholes can cause extensive damage to vehicles, including their tires, struts, alignment, and hubcaps, which could cost as much as thousands of dollars to repair and replace. In these cases, drivers may want to file pothole damage claims, but there are only certain situations when this is a viable course of action.
Pothole damage claims involve single-car accidents, which insurance carriers file as at-fault accident claims. When a driver hits a pothole, this is considered a collision, which applies to collision deductibles. Subsequently, this could cause rates to increase upon the next renewal as a result of filing an at-fault claim. Claims may also not be worth the inconvenience in some cases if the damage resulting from the collision is lower than the deductible.
Seeking Reimbursement from the City
Instead of filing a damage claim, drivers can attempt to seek reimbursement from the city, county, or state that owns the road where the pothole was located. The reimbursement process can be time-consuming and costly, but it may be worth the time and money if the damage is extensive enough to warrant a reimbursement. On the other hand, if the vehicle only sustained minor damage, it’s often best to avoid filing a claim entirely.
What Happens When Accidents Result in Injuries?
If potholes cause accidents and people sustain injuries, pothole accident victims may be able to file a claim against the city or other entity that neglected to properly repair and maintain the road where the accident took place. Injury claims may cover a variety of damages that drivers suffered, including medical expenses they have incurred or will incur in the future, along with lost wages due to time taken off from work to recover, and pain and suffering that victims endured.
Collecting Evidence for A Pothole Claim
Whether a driver wants to file a claim for damages or injuries, it’s important to have sufficient evidence to help build a case against the city or other entity responsible for the accident.
Evidence could include:
- Photos of the pothole taken at the time of the accident
- The noted date and time of the accident
- Medical records and bills
- Photos of damage done to vehicles
- Estimates from two or more mechanics for the damages
Deciding When to File a Claim for Pothole Accidents
If victims involved in pothole accidents are considering seeking an accident claim, there are factors to take into account.
Many pothole accidents warrant insurance claims, particularly if the damage done to a vehicle is serious and could cost thousands of dollars to repair. However, if accidents resulted in injuries and victims believe the city, state, or other government is responsible, they may be able to build a case with the help of an accident attorney. Whether filing a claim or seeking reimbursement from the government for an accident, pothole accident victims always have options available to help them recover compensation in the event of damages and injuries.