Winter can do some ugly things to city streets.
Every spring, potholes appear and can cause serious damage to vehicles and bikes but the good news is the city could be on the hook for some damages incurred.
Leonard Kunka has some experience dealing with the city over pothole damages.
The Toronto lawyer was driving down Bayview Ave. last spring when he hit a large pothole.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew something had happened. So, I went straight to the dealership,” Kunka said.
Kunka had a warranty through his dealership which covered the cost of the damage done to his rim, but that wasn’t the biggest price tag he was faced with.
He found out that the pothole had caused $1,500 worth of damages to his car’s alignment.
“It knocked my alignment completely out of whack, so there was a $1,500 bill to fix [it],” Kunka said.
Kunka called his insurer and they covered the cost temporarily while he made a $1,500 pothole claim with the city.
“Luckily, I had taken pictures and I was able to document the [damage],” he said.
“We basically had to go through the whole rigmarole of me proving that I actually hit a pothole.”
The city did eventually pay for the damages, but Kunka said it wasn’t an easy process.
“They don’t pay these [claims] easily. My impression was that if I didn’t have all the stuff I had to back it up, they probably wouldn’t have paid the claim,” Kunka said.
In 2014, there was 2,376 pothole claims made with the city and only 1,008 of the claims were reimbursed, leaving just under half of the total claims denied.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to file a claim with the city for pothole damage:
Filing your pothole claim letter
The most important thing to remember is be as detailed as possible.
Include photos, diagrams and receipts of damage estimates.
The city provides a list of details required before submitting your pothole claim:
Include witness accounts and contact numbersYour name, home address, phone number and e-mail addressDate, time and location of accident which caused the property damage or injuryExact address including a diagram and/or photo of accident locationHow the accident happened and names, phone numbers of any witnessesDetailed description of your property damage or injuryInclude documentation that you believe support your claim such as: photos, receipts and estimatesOutline why you believe the City is responsible for the accidentDid you report this accident to the City, if so, please provide name(s) of City staff involvedIf a City Contractor was involved please provide contractor’s name
Submitting your letter
Once the letter is written, it can be given to the city in one of three ways: email, mail or fax.
If you are sending an email, you can expect to hear back from the city clerk’s office in approximately two business days and an adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim.
But, if you are submitting your letter through mail or fax, it could take up to 10 days to hear back from the clerk’s office.
Once all the necessary documentation is submitted and you’ve been assigned an adjuster, you sit back and wait.
The city’s insurance adjuster will have to decide if the city was responsible for the damage caused by the potholes and this process could take about 90 days.
If your claim is denied
It can take some time before pothole claims go through the entire process, but in the case your claim is denied, you will receive a letter from the adjuster explain the reasons for the compensation denial.
But not all is lost.
READ MORE: CAA South Central Ontario launches worst roads campaign
If you want to pursue your claim after it has been denied, you can proceed with legal action.