By Dave Savini
(CBS) — It has been a tough winter for cars being damaged by potholes. Pop a tire or bend your rim, and it could be a costly fix.
Will you get reimbursed by the city for the damage? Don’t hold your breath.
2 Investigator Dave Savini looks into how those claims have been handled in the past — with drivers waiting years for their money.
At least for a couple of drivers, however, that wait ended after the 2 Investigators got involved.
Ben Mills recently tried getting through a pothole minefield on Madison Avenue, when he was finally stopped by a massive one.
“I fell into it and knocked out both my front tires,” he says. “Blown out by the pothole. It’s a sinkhole to me.”
Another pothole victim, Sue Maman, lost a couple of tires.
“Instantly blown,” she says. “That’s how big and deep the craters are.”
She is out hundreds of dollars for two tires and an alignment because of a Lake Shore Drive pothole.
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to get my money back,” she says.
Maman, Mills and any other pothole victim can file claims with the city of Chicago to recoup their repair costs. But whether they get their money back is another story.
The 2 Investigators found that motorists have been waiting years to get reimbursed for pothole damage. Some have been waiting as long as three years and still have not seen a penny.
CBS 2 obtained a list of about 2,100 claims made by pothole victims from 2011 through 2013, which totaled about $1.2 million. Only about $217,000 was ever paid out.
Half these filed claims have never been resolved. Hundreds even date back to 2011, including that of Landon Harper, who says he has had no response from the city to his $926.80 claim.
“I gave up hope,” he says.
Wayne Popelka’s Toyota Prius nearly disappeared into a water-covered pothole. The tires and suspension were shot.
Two and a half years ago, he filed a $600.44 claim and has not received any money yet.
“It’s disappointing when you dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s and just nothing happens,” Popelka says.
Harper says he has had even more pothole damage since the 2011 incident.
But given that the city denies, delays and just does not pay, he says he is discouraged from filing any more claims.
Now, good news for at least two drivers: After the 2 Investigators called the city, an official said they are approving both Landon Harper and Wayne Popelka’s claims.
The city did not respond to requests for comments for this report. Usually, it pays drivers half of the money they request when settling a claim.
To get a PDF of a claim form to fill out, click here.