PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Potholes — they’re everywhere these days.
But getting the government to pay for damage to your car is about as likely as you driving through all the craters on the moon.
Don’t tell Laura Cusharek of Stanton Heights that. She lost a tire because of a pothole on Liberty Avenue just before the Bloomfield Bridge.
But she says, “I ended up getting reimbursement.”
Was she surprised?
“Shocked,” she told KDKA money editor Jon Delano. “I didn’t think it was going to happen.”
Cusharek got a $188 check from the City of Pittsburgh.
“Potholes in the city are absolutely horrendous,” she says.
But getting reimbursed for damage caused by them is unusual, says city Claims Administrator Margaret Vitale.
“The vast majority are denied,” she noted.
Less than a hundred pothole claims a year get paid, totaling maybe $20,000.
Cusharek says she was persistent in calling then-Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s office.
“I had to really, really complain, and really be unhappy for them to seem to care,” she said. “At first, they did try to blow me off.”
But when referred to the City Solicitor’s Office, she did exactly as instructed, filling out forms available online or at the office.
Besides her persistence, what made Cusharek successful in getting money from the city is that she called 311 ahead of time, giving the city plenty of notice of this pothole so they could have repaired it. Of course, the city did nothing.
Vitale says as long as the city has at least a week’s notice of the pothole that caused the damage, the city may reimburse, at least up to the deductible of the car owner’s collision insurance.
If you see a pothole and want it to be repaired, the best thing to do is to contact 311,” says Vitale.
Cusharek echoes that advice.
“We pay our taxes and we should be having maintained roads,” she said.