While there are hundreds of remarkable things to see and do in New York City, there is an endless supply of not-so beautiful things—like the potholes that litter our streets. Not only unpleasant to behold, they are a serious hazard that can ruin vehicles and cause crashes. The good news is you can seek compensation for relatively minor issues like damage to your tires and rims from the City; the bad news is there are restrictions on them.

When a person is seriously hurt in a crash due to a pothole, the situation becomes more complicated. That’s when you need a top NYC injury attorney on your side to make sure your rights are protected. You have a narrow window for filing a claim against the City, so don’t hesitate. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 for a free consultation.

The Dangers of Potholes

A pothole can cause serious damage as the tire of a vehicle slips down into the hole. The ragged edges of the hole can shred tires, and the sudden dip down can aggravate an already-damaged wheel. This can also damage the rim. For vehicles with low clearance, there is also the risk of damage to the axle and the undercarriage.

But the mere presence of a pothole is also a real problem, since drivers who see it are likely to veer suddenly or take an unexpected action to avoid it. Anything that happens unexpectedly on the road creates the risk of a collision. Not to mention the danger to cyclists and pedestrians crossing a street, who can easily twist an ankle if they step into the pothole.

Claims Against New York

There is a system in place in New York for handling claims for damage done to vehicles, but the process is specific. First, the city must be notified about the existence of a pothole, in writing, and it has 15 days to repair it—so for a claim to be accepted, the damage must come from by a known pothole that has not been repaired in 15 days.

Then, you need to document your vehicle’s needed repairs and the pothole itself. Since we all go around with cameras in our pockets, this is easier than it was in the past. You only have 90 days from the date of an incident to file your claim, so it is important to act immediately.

However, this system does not apply to injuries to drivers or passengers. In these instance, you may need to file a government tort claim with the city to recover compensation for a hazardous roadway.

What About Potholes Outside the City?

If you strike a pothole while outside the city, such as on a state road, things become a bit more complicated. The New York State Department of Transportation will not reimburse drivers who strike a pothole between the months of November and May of the following year. This is referred to as “pothole season,” during which time every driver has to look out and fend for himself. Should you strike a pothole outside of this time period, you can file a claim, but keep in mind there is a $5,000 limit on what the State will pay.

What If Someone Was Injured?

Consider, for example, the case of a Chicago motorcyclist who struck a pothole in November 2010. He was thrown from his bike and struck by another driver, tragically resulting in his death. Eventually, the City of Chicago settled a lawsuit with the man’s family for $4 million, but it took nearly eight years for that to happen.

When serious injuries occur, filing a claim through an automated system is not enough. From 2009 to 2015, the City of New York paid out nearly $138 million to settle more than 4,000 lawsuits from personal injuries and property damage caused by potholes. The city puts money aside specifically for dealing with lawsuits from people harmed by potholes. But it is vitally important to have an experienced attorney to represent you. Call an experienced NYC car accident lawyer at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 today.

Updated 4/29/2021

Posted in: Hazardous Roadways