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Woman’s claim denied after City officials say pothole wasn’t reported

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 19:20:35-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Driving through the City of Richmond, turned into an expensive trip for Mary Wilson.

"It was really large, really big,” said Mary Wilson.

While travelling eastbound on Hull Street road last year, Wilson hit a massive pothole.

"I actually didn't see it when I approached it. It was so much traffic, I just hit it. And you know... it did a lot of damage to the wheel on my vehicle,” said Wilson.

pothole damage

She reported it to Richmond Police that Saturday afternoon and then to the City Attorney's office the following Monday.

"They told me the process, how to file the claim, get the estimate and that's what I did,” said Wilson.

Wilson's repair bill totaled nearly $700.

After calling and leaving messages, she finally reached the claims adjuster assigned to her case.

"He assured that it was payable,” said Wilson.

“Why did he tell you that?” CBS 6 reporter Sandra Jones asked Wilson.

Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson

"Just from looking at the claim information that I sent in," she replied.

That was reportedly in March of 2016.

Three months later, Wilson's claim was denied.

"I couldn't believe it because all this time, I thought it was payable,” she said.

In a statement to CBS 6, city officials say they denied her claim because they were not notified of a pothole at that location:

"In order to qualify for a potential repayment, the pothole would have had to be reported to the city beforehand (the city cannot be held responsible for fixing a pothole it does not know exists.) Then the city would have to have not taken action within a reasonable time to fix it - before an incident causing damage and producing a subsequent claim qualified for compensation."

If you live in the counties, VDOT is responsible for pothole claims.

"Once we receive a report about a pothole, we will review the location and make any repairs, as needed," said a VDOT spokesperson. "Generally, pothole patching operations are prioritized by severity and location, with some severe potholes on high traffic roads being filled within 24 hours, and most potholes on higher traffic roads being repaired within several days."

The procedure to report potholes is to contact VDOT's customer service center, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone at (800) FOR-ROAD (367-7623) or online.

If drivers hit a pothole and experience damage to their vehicle, they have a legal right to submit a damage claim. Claims are investigated on a case-by-case basis.

Investigators review the circumstances, the type and location of the pothole, if VDOT had been previously notified of the issue and if crews had been given a reasonable amount of time to repair the pothole. Payment for claims depends on the outcome of the investigation.

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