Pothole Damage Could Mean Money in Your Pocket

Here’s how to get reimbursed for damage done by a pothole.

Editor’s Note: This is a companion piece to a larger story about ways potholes are being addressed in the region. You can read that story — “Got Pothole Problems?” — here.

If a pothole causes damage to your vehicle, it’s sometimes possible to be repaid by the governing body responsible for maintaining the road.  Here’s how:

First, determine who is in charge of the road:

Road maintenance is divided between local governments. Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is responsible for state-owned roads and highways with an “M”, “I” or “US” in the name (for example, M-10, US-23 and I-94).  Cities are responsible for all residential streets and most odd mile roads as well as some east/west corridors.  The counties tend to be responsible for what’s left — county highways and some major thoroughfares that run between cities like Lahser Road, Outer Drive and Merriman Road. It’s confusing, so make sure you call who you think is responsible before you go to the trouble of filing a claim.

If your tire is damaged on a Michigan state road:

Fill out this form from the MDOT. The form must be notarized, which can be done for free at many banks, and all written estimates/receipts need to be included. Then take the completed form and documentation to any MDOT office.

If your tire is damaged on a Wayne County road:

Proof of insurance and receipts of estimates/repairs are required along with this form. They can either be mailed or brought to the Wayne County Risk Management Claims Division, 500 Griswold, 20th Floor, Detroit.


WDET/Vinny Craig

If your tire is damaged on a Macomb County road:

This form can either be mailed, emailed or faxed to the Macomb County Department of Roads. The county, suggests attaching photographs of the vehicle damage.

If your tire is damaged on an Oakland County road:

This is the only county where everything can be done online here. An electronic signature and the contact info for witnesses are required to complete the claim.

If your tire is damaged on a City of Detroit road:

The city requires the most proof when it comes to getting reimbursed for a damaged car. You must include a copy of your insurance and registration along with photographs of the damage. Three estimates have to be included and sent to the City of Detroit Law Department Claims Section along with this form. Don’t forget to have it notarized.

The Lansing State Journal investigated damage claims paid out by MDOT and the city of Lansing. They reported that the chances of reimbursed for damages are low, sometimes zero,  as the agency must have been notified about the pothole by another motorist before the damaged vehicle hit it. Read the full article here.

This post was last updated 2-28-2018.