Winter paves the way for potholes - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Winter paves the way for potholes

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Drivers across the state said potholes this winter have been difficult to avoid.

From blown tires to busted rims, potholes have proved to be a pricey problem. Getting a town or the state to fix vehicle damage depends on where that damage happened and when.

Carol Blair said she struck one on South Maple Street in Enfield in January.

"The split second I was hitting the pothole and noticed that the pothole was there, there was no ability for me to swerve," Blair said.

Two tires were blown less than a half a mile from Blair's house.

"$1,100 in damage we had to fork out to get our car fixed," she said.

The state Department of Transportation said it's only responsible for potholes on state roads. The ones on local streets are handled on a case-by-case basis by the city or town.

Blair said she filed a claim with Enfield over the hole on South Maple Street and had it denied.

The declination cited several reasons including a Connecticut General Statute that "does not automatically make the Town negligent."

It also stated the "claim involved a weather-related pothole" which is "unavoidable during the winter season."

"Towns have a strong defense in these cases," explained Attorney Peter Murphy. "They have to know about the pothole and then they're allowed a reasonable time to fix it. And even then, the driver has to show that the pothole is the 'sole proximate cause' of their damage."

Murphy also said that any claims related to potholes must be filed within 90 days of the incident and with the town where it happened. If the damage took place on a highway, the claim would go to the state.

Enfield officials said they had no prior notice of the pothole Blair said she hit.

Eyewitness News contacted the town and was referred to the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, an agency that processes claims. It did not return any phone calls.

Blair said she's prepared to fight.

"If it drags on for two years, it drags on for two years," she said. "Even if I get 50 percent of what I had, then that's fine with me."

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