Can I sue Chicago for pothole damage to my car?

Can I sue Chicago for pothole damage to my car?

The potholes in Chicago have been crazy this year. I’m convinced it made traffic much worse. Cars are swerving all over the road to avoid huge holes, and curbs are littered with lost hubcaps. Now that spring is maybe almost here, it should get better. But what about all the damage that has been caused to vehicles over the winter by these potholes? Believe it or not, the City of Chicago has an answer.

Chicago has a process through which a vehicle owner can file a claim for damage on their vehicle. It’s not a lawsuit or even a small claims case. What happens is that you file a claim and the city council decides. A committee of the city council reviews these claims and makes a recommendation to the city council on whether to award damages (pay you) or not. If they agree to pay you for damage, they actually pass an ordinance to do so.

There is a form on the city’s website, along with some instructions. The form asks for your name, your vehicle and insurance information, and other basics. The important part seems to be the evidence that you attach and submit with the form. You need two written estimates on fixing the damage, or your receipt if you got the repairs already. And you need a police report on the incident.

Not many people get a police report after hitting a pothole, so I’d say that’s one of the key things in filing a claim. Get a police report. This probably keeps a lot of claims out of the system, as people aren’t going to bother with all that for a small fix.

After you get everything in order, you mail it to the Office of the City Clerk, or drop it off. Then you wait. The website gives a number that you can call to check on your claim, and it appears that you can look up the claim number (which is assigned after you submit the claim) online. The whole process, not surprisingly, will probably take a few months.

It’s not a lawsuit, but it’s something. Honestly, it’s not worth suing the city over damage to your car, because the amount of damage is likely relatively small. I have no idea how well this claims process works, how many people are successful and actually get reimbursed, and what excuse they give if they deny your claim. If you’ve made a claim, I’d love to hear how it turned out. It seems like a good thing for the city to do, but the reality might be a different story. In Chicago, you never know.

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