News 5 Investigates

Apr 2, 2014 6:42 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 investigates why Colorado Springs denies 98-percent of pothole damage claims

From flat tires to dented wheels damages resulting from hitting a pothole can be costly.

If you're one of the hundreds who filed a claim for compensation and haven't received a penny, you're not alone.

Out of more than 150 damage claims on file with the City of Colorado Springs between January 1, 2014 and March 2014, less than 2-percent ended with some payment, leaving many upset and wanting answers about why their claims were denied.

It was 9 p.m. on a Friday evening when James Fiducia hit a pothole while heading eastbound on Austin Bluffs near American Drive.

"I pulled off to the side of the road, got out of my car and noticed my tired was flat," he said.

Fiducia says the pothole also damaged the front wheel which had to be replaced.

"The pothole had to be about three feet deep," he said.

He was concerned about the pothole and called police, who told him to file a complaint with the City.

"An investigator (with the City) came out to take a look at the car and took pictures of the wheel," Fiducia said.

A few days later, the City's claims adjuster sent a letter denying Fiducia's damage claim. The City told him that because construction work was being performed in the area, he needed to file a complaint with the private contractor.

"Everyone is passing the buck on somebody else," Fiducia said. "The City says it's not them and the construction company says it's not their fault."

Sifting through pages of claims for pothole damages, only three people received compensation from the City in the last 14 months. Combined, just over $1,300 was paid out and in all three cases, the City did not pay the full cost for damages.

This pothole payout problem expands far beyond city limits.

"It was about three or four feet wide," resident Cherish Pino said.

Pino hit a pothole in El Paso County while driving home on South Academy near exit 135.

"The air was starting to come out of the tires and one of the tires went flat," she said.

Like Fiducia, she has not received any compensation for damages. In fact, we checked with El Paso County and learned not a single claim for damages has been paid.

So how are local governments able to avoid paying claims? The answer lies in a little known law called the Colorado Government Immunity Act.

"What that states is that we have to have notice of a dangerous road condition and we have to have a reasonable amount of time to fix that," David Miller with the City of Colorado Springs risk management department said.

The City's streets division says 1-2 weeks is a reasonable time frame to fix potholes.

So is the City keeping its word?

Click here for part two of our investigation into pothole repair times:

Here's what you can do to increase your chances of being compensated after hitting a pothole:
*If safe to do so, pull over immediately to assess any damage
*Take pictures on-scene, not when you get home
*If pictures show damage at a location the City can pinpoint, it is less likely to dispute where the incident took place
*If possible, file a claim in writing the day the incident happened
*Include any and all estimates for damage with your claim

There is no appeals process for a denied claim. However, you are entitled to have your claim reviewed by a supervisor.

Potholes can be reported to the City of Colorado Springs by calling 385-ROAD or through the City's pothole reporting app available through the Apple store or Android Marketplace.



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