The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Local News

February 5, 2014

City won't pay for pothole damage

'Act of nature' not covered by insurance

ANDERSON – When people think of an act of nature, tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes usually come to mind. The city of Anderson considers potholes to be in that category.

The city of Anderson will not pay for damage done to vehicles as a result of potholes on city streets, deeming them an act of nature and not covered by the city’s liability insurance.

Anderson officials said damage to vehicles from potholes is excluded from coverage by the city.

The city is obligated to repair potholes in a reasonable amount of time once it is given “notice,” officials said. There are several factors to consider when determining what constitutes a reasonable amount of time. Materials and manpower are just two of these factors.

The city must have committed a negligent act in order to be liable for a loss.

A pothole is created through the constant freezing and thawing of the pavement. Since the city is not responsible for acts of nature, the city does not incur responsibility for damages.

Ashley Hopper, city attorney, said residents can file a claim for damage to vehicles with the city’s risk management department. The claim will be investigated by the city for possible payment.

Madison County Commissioner John Richwine said the county has not paid for damage done to vehicles by potholes and has no plans to change the policy.

City officials said they’re sympathetic and empathetic with residents whose vehicles are damaged by potholes.

“Most excessive damage claims are a result of traveling at a speed that is too fast for the conditions,” a city press release indicated. “Drivers must practice defensive driving and be vigilant of their conditions especially during extreme winter months.”

In Indianapolis, motorists can file a tort claim with the city. The city conducts an investigation. If the city is determined to be negligent, a settlement form will be mailed to the vehicle owner to be submitted for payment.

The Indiana Department of Transportation allows for the filing of a tort claim for vehicles damaged by potholes on state highways or damaged by a snowplow.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.

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