A Plague of Potholes: Pothole Danger on DC Streets

First we had a relentless winter; then, we had a wet spring. The wet weather has brought our spring flowers, but it has also brought a record number of potholes to the DC area.

Potholes occur when water seeps through tiny cracks in the pavement surface. It weakens the soil below the pavement, causing the pavement to collapse and crack. Periods of freezing and thawing can accelerate the process, but it doesn’t have to be cold for potholes to form.

How to Report a Pothole
  • Virginia drivers can report potholes by calling 800-367-7623.
  • DC drivers can report potholes on this website or by calling the Mayor’s office at 311.
  • Maryland drivers can complete a service form at roads.maryland.gov.

Potholes can cause serious damage to your car. We recently read about a woman who hit a pizza-sized pothole on Belmont Ridge Road in Ashburn. The pothole caused $800 worth of damage to her vehicle. This isn’t unusual. In the first two months of 2014, AAA roadside assistance responded to more than 23,000 reports of vehicle damage caused by potholes in the DC area.

If Your Car is Damaged by a Pothole…
  • Pull over to a safe location.
  • Take photographs of you’re the damage to your vehicle.
  • Take pictures of the pothole. If possible, get your vehicle and pothole in the same picture.

If your car is damaged by a pothole, there may not be enough damage to make it worth your while to file an insurance claim. But you can file a claim with the agency responsible for maintaining the road. If the damage occurred in DC, make your claim with the Office of Risk Management. In Northern Virginia, contact VDOT. Maryland is more complicated because the state maintains some roads, while counties are responsible for others. Send your photos and an estimate of the damage to the appropriate agency.

Nationwide, tire and wheel damage caused by potholes adds up to more than $6.4 billion in vehicle damage a year. But potholes also cause serious accidents and injuries. If you have been in an injury-causing accident caused by a pothole, you will want to file an insurance claim. The pictures you take will help prove that the pothole caused the damage, but you may an attorney’s assistance to get the full compensation that you deserve, especially if other vehicles were involved.

If you have questions about your pothole injury accident, the attorneys at Lewis & Tompkins may be able to help. Call us at 202-296-0666 to schedule a free consultation.

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