Pothole claims against city rise dramatically

Beck Service Center is starting to see more repairs for pothole damage.

With winter weather on the way, the number of claims against the city for pothole damage to cars is rapidly rising.

13 Investigates has confirmed a dramatic increase in people asking the city to pay for pothole damage and the city is paying more money than it has in a long time.

Beck Service Center is just one garage servicing a rising number of vehicles damaged by potholes.

"Cut the tire, bent the rim. The potholes are here," said mechanic Bill Amonett.

Rain and snow is in the near-term forecast for Indianapolis. Thawing, then freezing, then the pavement explodes in a pothole.

13 Investigates found in the 2011 pothole season, 1,163 drivers made damage claims against the city. That's almost double the 603 and 558 the two years before. City taxpayers paid out at least $137,000 in claims this last pothole season, four times the amount paid out for damages in 2009 and 2010.

"This past year, we did see a lot of claims filed and we had more pot holes this year. One of the reasons, we had a very harsh winter," said Kara Brooks, Department of Public Works.

Eyewitness News found last season, drivers had more luck collecting from the city. In 2009 and 2010, the city paid out just 10 and 20 percent of claims. In 2011, about 30 percent of pothole claims were honored.

"We have resurfaced 600 street segments and bridges this past year, so that's a lot," Brooks said.

So DPW hopes better streets will mean fewer pothole claims next season, even though 2012 looks like a weather rerun.

"It's not uncommon to hit a chuckhole and do $200-1,000 damage pretty easily," Amonett said. "We see it everyday."

You can report a pothole or submit a claim on the Request Indy web site, or by calling 317-327-4MAC.