Road Hazards and Who must pay

mercury
cougar

#1

Recently my GF hit a huge pot hole that came out after a recent major storm here in Michigan. Less than a block away she comes through the door and asks me to help push it into a parking spot in our apt complex.



When I got to the vehicle there was a giant puddle of oil. It was pretty obvious what happened but we dont have full coverage and are poor college students. I was wondering, is there anyway I can get the county to pay for the cost of repair?


#2

I don’t know how Michigan handles these things but around here your odds are between slim and none.

The way it’s done here is that you have to pretty much prove the city/county/state knew about the problem and either brushed off or refused to fix the problem after being told.
That is very difficult if not impossible to prove so the vast majority of people with damaged cars have to bite the bullet.

The big issue I would have in this case is that the oil pan has apparently been damaged. If the GF stopped when this happened then there is likely no engine damage. If the engine was running for a while with no oil in it, the oil pressure light on, etc. then the engine could be seriously damaged.
Sometimes when an oil pan is damaged the oil pump pickup tube is broken. This means the oil pump cannot provide any oil to the engine even if the pan had oil in it.

Just curious, but what year Cougar are you talking about? The older rear drive models or the later ones?


#3

Its a '99

Yeah, I was afraid of that but I thought I would ask the question anyway. It is front wheel drive. GF tried to start it when I came to see the car and it clicked 3 times. Im afraid the engine might be damaged but Im praying for a miracle.


#4

It doesn’t help you now, but in the future get at least comprehensive car insurance, which helps protects you against this kind of accident. Comprehensive insurance will cover damage if you hit a deer, veer off the road and hit a tree, etc., minus a pre-set deductible. You can reduce the standard $500 (example) deductible by paying slightly higher premiums. The insurance also covers glass replacement, in my state without any deductible.

As to going after the county or state in Michigan, you will need to show that there was no good faith effort on the part of state (if it is a state road) or the county (county road).
If the pothole is still there after a week and no effort has been made to as much as fill the hole with coldpatch fill, then you might have a case. Take a picture of it with a that day’s newspaper and headline in the picture.
If you ever watched a civil proceeding (even Judge Judy is instructive), you know the value of documenting things and having all of your facts together when you get to any kind of hearing or courtroom. Where were you going, what date and time did you hit the pothole, when did you notice the damage, what damage occurred and what was the cost to you, all of these things need to be at your fingertips. Even if you just wrote them all down yourself.

I doubt you’ll go back and find an unfilled pothole, since as you say, the pot hole was the result of a recent major storm. Chances are the hole has since been filled.

I referenced this link to find out where you stand in Michigan:
http://www.freep.com/article/20090209/COL12/902090336/Pothole-damage?-You-re-basically-sunk
You might be able to get a better idea of where you stand by looking online at similar links.


#5

I come out against having comprehensive coverage on a 1999 vehicle. The cost of a policy with comprehensive coverage is double for what a legal minimum policy is here in AZ. I protect myself from these type of things by "behaviour modifications"in regards to my driving style. 40 years driving, no accidents.I fully believe that most “accidents” are not accidents but are events that could have been prevented.


#6

Don’t try to start a car when all the oil is in a puddle on the ground. Even if you get it started, you’ll wreck the engine.


#7

It makes that big of a difference?

I kept comprehensive on my 97 Taurus until the day I sold it, and I still carry it on my 98 Camry. It runs me about $30 every 6 months on the Camry, and cost me all of $10 every 6 months on the Taurus when I sold it.


#8

It is driver beware on the roads. States with hard winter months have a big challenge keeping the roads clear. The plowing and salting contribute to freeze - thaw cycles that break up pavement. Then a few big trucks enlarge the holes when the heavy vehicles hit the potholes.

Even the best crews can’t keep up with potholes that seemingly come out of nowhere. Driver’s need to consider slower speeds to increase the time they have to react and steer around potholes safely.

With the current crusade to reduce budgets and taxes you can expect more potholes to go without repair as road budgets and road repair labor forces are cut back. If you live in Wisconsin expect more potholes, bigger potholes, and more damage to vehicles using the roads.


#9

I called my Gieco agent because I had the idea that I replaced my last windshield through my own wallet without a detour of some type through my insurance agent. I was thinking I could buy some sort of “glass only” coverage but limited comprehensive was not offered so I asked what would be the full comprehensive price (with 1000.00 deductible) it was double my “legal minimum” price here in AZ(about 1350.00 with comp.),2004 F-150, no tickets,no accidents.

Insult to injury as about a week after the new windshield was put in I got a stone chip. We have the worst roads here in Tucson.


#10

Collision is when you hit something (an accident); car, pole, boulder in the road, etc.
Comprehensive is pretty much anything else; boulder falls on your car, theft, fire, some natural disasters and the occasional deer in the headlights.

On my policy, glass breakage is separate, also, zero deductible. I don’t know if that holds true for every state.

Even with full coverage, I would think this road hazard is not covered but you should check with your agent. (Winter potholes would be considered an accepted risk for driving in a northern clime.) I think this would come under collision, not comprehensive. You hit it, it didn’t hit you. :slight_smile:


#11

A few years ago, here in ohio, I had a friend who hit a pothole that swallowed her car (several others also hit the same spot). Through The complaints department of odot she got them to agree to pay for the repairs, cause it wasn’t marked. You should call and ask. It can’t hurt.