Few get reimbursed for city pothole claims

CREATED Mar 18, 2014 - UPDATED: Mar 18, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - When you see or hit a pothole you are supposed to call it in and file a claim. Drivers are doing just that.  But is the process a waste of time?  Driving this winter has been bad especially when you’re forced to dodge huge potholes.

“I’m upset because of the way the city is letting the streets get,” explained Ollie Luckett.

Back in January Luckett became upset after hitting a huge pothole at Teutonia Avenue and Hope Street.

“My car was messed up,” said Luckett.

The street crater bent is rim, damaged his tire rod and forced him to get a wheel alignment. He spent $742.72. So Luckett filed a claim with the city of Milwaukee.

“I had 120 days to send it in. But I got in right away,” explained Luckett.

Less than a week later he received a letter from the city informing him his claim was denied.  It turns out he’s not alone. The city provided us with a list of claims filed by drivers who claim their vehicles were damaged by potholes. That list from 2008 until February 2014 shows hundreds of claims were denied.

“No it’s not worth it to file a claim. You have to pay for it yourself, at least I did,” said Luckett.

As more potholes pop up drivers continue to file claims. The last time the city of Milwaukee paid someone for a pothole claim was in October 2011.

Under Wisconsin Act 132, Milwaukee and other cities are only responsible when injuries happened due to bad roads. That went into effect in 2012. Prior to the act in 2008, 330 people filed claims totaling more than $750,000. The city of Milwaukee in 2008 paid only 7 of those claims.

From September 2013 until the end of February 2014, 31 people filed claims for less than $20,000. The city of Milwaukee hasn’t paid a single claim.

The city said many of the claims were denied due to incorrect filing, claiming the incident happened on county roads and not city roads.  But even when people do everything right in their claim, the law is currently on the city’s side.

And that leaves Luckett to believe something is wrong.

“Yeah they’re sticking it to us,” argued Luckett.

To report potholes in Milwaukee contact the call center at 414-286-2489.