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Who Is Liable for Pothole Damage to Your Car in Maine?

April 5th, 2013     Noyes Hall & Allen

 

pothole

Potholes can cause hundreds to thousands of dollars of damage to your vehicle, including flat tires, bent rims, misaligned steering and underside  damage. They can even cause an accident if you lose control of your vehicle or swerve suddenly to avoid one.

 

What should you do after you hit a pothole? Clients of our South Portland Maine insurance agency commonly ask three questions after they hit a pothole:

Who Pays for Pothole Damage to My Car?

Potholes can appear quickly, and can reappear even after they have been filled repeatedly. Maine law absolves municipalities from liability for damage caused by potholes unless the pothole was reported more than 24 hours before your accident, and untreated.  This is difficult to prove, which means you’re usually not going to get help from city or town hall. Maine State Law is even more lenient with state-owned roads: the state of Maine is never liable for damage caused by potholes.

 

 

Is Pothole Damage to My Vehicle Covered by Insurance?

Hitting a pothole, or any other hazard in the road (other than live animals) is covered by the collision section of your Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance policy. If you purchased collision coverage, your collision deductible will apply. If it is a single-car incident, it’s considered “at fault”, and therefore may increase your auto insurance rates. Your Maine insurance agent can help you decide whether or not you want to file an auto insurance claim for pothole damage.

Will Anyone Else Pay for Pothole Damage?

New car dealers sell a product called “road hazard warranty”. It typically covers road damage to tires and rims, with a small deductible. Check to see if you purchased this warranty when you bought or leased your vehicle. If so, you may be in luck.

"Fix It! Portland." web page.

“Fix It! Portland.”

What to Do if Your Vehicle is Damaged by a Pothole

  1. Pull off the road as soon as it’s safe. Is your vehicle is still OK to drive? If not, call a tow truck. 
  2. Note the date and time of the accident. Take a photo of the pothole and report it. If it’s a town road, report it to your municipality’s Public Works Department. If it’s a state route, report it to MDOT (207-885-7000 in Southern Maine).  The City of Portland has a web page: FixIt! Portland. They also have a mobile app.
  3. If you’re not sure your vehicle is OK, have a repair garage check it.
  4. Call your insurance agent if you’re considering whether to report an insurance claim.

 

Have questions about Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance? Want to compare Maine car insurance quotes in 10 minutes? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

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There are 2 comments for “Who Is Liable for Pothole Damage to Your Car in Maine?”
  • Ted Darling thinks:

    Good article.Potholes are always a problem in the spring. They sometimes appear out of nowhere. I was never clear on who was responsible.

  • Richard Hansen thinks:

    Yes, Maine has always had a reputation of being behind the times in many ways. But when it comes to immunity, it’s right on top. I have lived in 8 different states and have never seen roads even close to this type of condition. Can’t blame the winters as when I was in the twin cities the winters were much more harsh but they had better roads. When it comes to cost, I hit a pothole at the corner of marginal way and Franklin that left my 2013 BWW undriveable due to a flat tire. When it was towed to the dealer, I found I had to replace inner and outter tie rod rod ends and the lower ball joint. Total repair was over 2,500 dollars. Wish I knew I could have claimed on my insurance. What really gets me is today I hit the same damn hole!! No flat tire but will have to take it to the dealer to see what damage was done. It’s amazing what this state does to tax people and protect it from being sued. I own several rental properties in the Sebabo Lake area and they finally repaved a road that had not been done since the 80’s Now it already had pot holes and it’s being filled with dirt and black top. That is not a harsh winter, that is incompetence. Where do my over 500k in taxes go? It’s no wonder this state sees no industry aside from tourism. I’m actually starting to think that the high taxes, energy costs, and just lack of competency should lead me to pick up and move elsewhere.

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