Hundreds of lawsuits surface as result of potholes - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Hundreds of lawsuits surface as result of potholes

(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

Potholes are everywhere. If you drive around Memphis, you can't miss them. Literally. And that's becoming a big problem for drivers and a costly one for the city.

Memphis is seeing a 70 percent increase in potholes from the recent winter storms that passed through the area. Whether you're a taxpayer or you've blown a tire driving on them, you're going to pay for it.

In the last week weeks, Memphis drivers filed more than 300 claims for damages caused by potholes.

"Since the beginning of the month, we've filled over 13,000 potholes, which is about $1,000 per day," said Robert Knecht, Memphis Public Works.

With so many claims, the city set aside a $20,000 emergency fund to cover costs and give the people who are making claims faster access to the money.

The average pothole costs $35 to patch; the big potholes can cost up to $200. The average cost of a claim over the past five years is more than $500.

"We do have five days from the date of notice to fill the pothole," Knecht explained.

Memphis Public Works says it has not yet exceeded its $13 million budget because the city has its own asphalt mixing plant. But, that could all change due to a new efficiency study.

"We're going to look at the value of the plant, what it means to the city and citizens in terms of services it can provide and if it does need to continue as we move forward," Knecht added.

The city is asking for patience and it seems that drivers have obliged.

"I've seen some great improvements on some of the major roads. Some of the back roads, they're still getting to them," Memphis driver Jodie Dowty said.

City of Memphis is urging drivers to slow down for pothole crews. They also encourage you call 311 to report potholes that you encounter.

Below is the pothole policy and claims procedure provided by City of Memphis:

The City of Memphis has established a $20,000 Pothole Relief Fund, and is streamlining the claims process so that we can settle all claims as quickly as the law allows, and pay particular attention to those claims for damages caused by potholes that we received notice of and did not make the repair within five days.

The City will pay for whatever damages the claimant proves were caused by hitting the pothole if the City had notice and a reasonable time to repair the pothole. The most common damages claimed are to tires, rims and vehicle alignment. There is a $100,000 limit on property damage claims.

The Claims Department takes a proactive approach in handling and processing claims. The thorough investigation that each claim deserves takes time. All claims are investigated as soon as possible once all required documents have been received. To streamline the process and allow more claims to be settled sooner, the Claims Office now has direct access to the 3-1-1 data base where the majority of potholes are reported. In the past, they have relied on hand written reports from Street Maintenance, which worked when the volume of pothole reports and claims was low.

Claim procedure

Claims may be submitted online, in person or via fax. To submit a claim on line visit Claims forms can be picked up at the City Claims Office, 2714 Union Ext., Suite 200. Fax completed forms to (901) 636-6605

Once a claim has been submitted electronically, a confirmation message is sent and includes a claim number.

The claim will be assigned to an analyst. A notice is sent via email when the claim is assigned to an analyst.

An investigation will be conducted upon receipt of all required claim information.

Claimants are contacted by the Claims Office when the investigation is complete.

To report potholes, call 3-1-1 or 901-636-6500.

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