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Pothole Damages & Property Damage in Philadelphia

Posted on August 3, 2022

Despite every effort to avoid them, sometimes potholes end up causing serious damage. When a pothole is responsible for an accident, there are various steps that drivers must take to ensure they receive adequate compensation for their injuries and property damage. 

How Do I Report Pothole Damage in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) encourages Philadelphia residents to report dangerous potholes. You can do so by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD or clicking “Submit A Roadway Concern” on www.penndot.gov. If a pothole has damaged your vehicle or caused a car accident, you can submit an insurance claim directly to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania online for your damage. The form will involve filling out details, such as the location of the pothole and describing the damage to your vehicle and any injuries. You will also need to submit evidence to support your claim, such as photos, repair estimates, medical records/bills, contact information for witnesses, etc. This process can take up to six months to resolve your claim. 

Alternatively, you can use the DoNotPay App, which is a fast and easy way to report a pothole problem. Search for “City Repairs” on the app, then select “Report the issue” or “Claim compensation.” Fill out the details and information requested, upload supporting documents, then enter the amount of compensation you are requesting for damages. 

Can a City, County, or State Be Responsible For an Accident Caused by Pothole in Pennsylvania?

Although you are entitled to file a claim, PennDOT’s Bureau of Finance and Risk Management (FARM), which reviews these claims, must act in accordance with PA C.S.A. Title 42 § 8522. Under this law, the state is shielded by “sovereign immunity,” which prevents liability for damage or injuries caused by potholes or poorly maintained streets. As a result, your claim for an accident caused by a pothole will likely be denied, as they are only approved under limited circumstances. 

For a city such as Philadelphia to potentially accept liability for damage or an accident caused by a pothole, the following elements must be present: 

  • The location of the pothole that caused the damage or collision must have been on a city street rather than a state road or highway. 
  • The city must have already received actual notice of the pothole and failed to repair it. Alternatively, instead of actual notice, if the city should have known about the pothole and repaired it, they may have to accept liability. This is referred to as constructive notice, which can apply on busier roads. 
  • Evidence of damage or injuries caused by the pothole. 

The city usually receives about 150 to 175 pothole claims each year, with one-fifth resulting in a payout. The median settlement ranges from $450 to $500, which will typically cover your insurance deductible. 

Filing an Insurance Claim for Pothole Damages

Since Pennsylvania is a “choice” no-fault auto insurance state, you may be able to turn to your own auto insurer to pay for damages caused by a pothole. If you carry no-fault insurance, you can file a claim under your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for medical bills and other financial losses regardless of what or who caused the accident. However, you will be responsible for your deductible unless the city reimburses you. 

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