Is the government responsible if potholes damage your vehicle?

Pothole season is starting in Michigan.
Posted at 6:54 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 06:54:14-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ)  — The winter storm last week seems to have started the dreaded season that plagues Michigan every year. We’re talking about pothole season.

“It's pretty bad,” said David Brooks.

David Brooks says he noticed problems at Rotunda and Oakwood in Dearborn.

“You driving, you hit the bumps. It is pretty rough,” said Brooks.

It was especially rough for drivers on I-94 Eastbound near Cadillac Avenue in Detroit Monday morning where drivers experienced big-time pothole problems. The result: blowouts.

We heard concerns about potholes at Haggerty and Eight Mile in Novi. In Washtenaw County, the Road Commission found its crews having to clean up snow left over from last week's storms on dirt roads and in subdivisions while also having to respond to potholes on interstates.

”It is pretty early in pothole season, but it is pothole season,” said Kizer.

Kizer is Communications Manager at the Washtenaw County Road Commission. It is asking drivers who see dangerous potholes to report them to the agency that maintains that road. It is also asking drivers to also give crews working to fix them extra space.

“The number of distracted drivers we see out there is terrifying, so if people can give our drivers plenty of space while they are out there we would really appreciate it,” said Kizer.

One question we get a lot when potholes start causing problems is whether the government is liable. Michigan law says the government has a responsibility to maintain “reasonably safe roads.”

There is a catch. To be liable the government has to have known about the problem or should have known about the problem for 30 days, something that can be challenging to prove.

If you have insurance, that should be used first under the law. To learn more about filing claims go to https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9615_30883_85656---,00.html.