Chicago potholes: Is filing a damage claim with the city worth it?

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Is filing a Chicago pothole claim worth it?
The I-Team found that less than half of last year's Chicago pothole claims have been cleared for payout.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's spring, which means it's pothole season. They can cause hundreds of dollars in damage to vehicles.

You can file a claim with the city if you hit a Chicago pothole, but is it worth it? The I-Team found that less than half of last year's pothole claims have been cleared for payout.

"I have a cracked rim on my back passenger side. I hit a pothole and there is a hole in the tire," Joshua Gadson said as he waited to get his car fixed. He said this is his sixth tire replacement in two years, all due to potholes. But he's never filed a claim with the city.

"For me, the time and then the type of car I have," Gadson explained. "I would have to go through my insurance and my deductible is a little more than my rim is, so I take it as a wash."

RELATED | Chicago pothole reports up 59% so far this year, data shows

The city accepts claims for damages that are under $2,500. But it does take some time and leg work.

First, you fill out this claim form with the City Clerk's office, including either a receipt for the damage or two written estimates, plus a copy of the police report.

Chicago City Council's Committee on Finance decides whether your claim is approved and how much you will receive. If approved, they'll pay up to half of your costs.

The city considers damage done by a pothole to be half their responsibility and the other half the responsibility of the driver who didn't avoid the pothole.

Juan Lopez, who works at Kuko's Tire Shop in Auburn Gresham, said it has a steady stream of customers.

"It can range from 40 up to 60 in a day because sometimes cars come in with two or three rims cracked," Lopez said. "If they hit a pot hole with the front, it's normally in the back, too."

Last year, Chicago's City Council Committee on Finance paid out a little more than half of what it budgets for vehicle damage claims due to potholes, according to data requested by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of the nearly 1,400 claims filed with the city, 46% of pothole damage claims were approved, 37% were denied and 18% are still pending.

The average payout? $333.

Instead of taking time to file the paperwork, Gadson said he would rather the city do a better job fixing the ruts in the road.

"For as much as we pay in taxes, it's kind of absurd that we have as many potholes, in all neighborhoods," Gadson said.

The Committee on Finance told the I-Team that they reach out to claimants if insufficient proof is provided and that they give people extra time to comply.

If you are denied, there is not an appeals process. Your next step would be to go to court and sue the city.