Drivers file damage claims over potholes

Drivers file damage claims over potholes
Published: Mar. 26, 2013 at 10:18 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 27, 2013 at 12:43 AM HST
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The Price family
The Price family
Julia Price
Julia Price
Victor Bakke
Victor Bakke

HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Price family has had a rough week and it all started with a rough road.

"Here Ellie let me give you your money," said Julia Price, as she gave her daughter Ellie, 9, her bus money.

The Price family's fast paced life has been slowed a bit.  They rely on the bus after their 2002 Audi A8 sedan was damaged by potholes on Lunalilo Home Road in Hawaii Kai.

"I hit it so hard and I must have been totally in line with the pothole because both of the driver side tires blew out. Immediately just bang bang," said Julia Price, pothole victim.  "This was clearly not my fault. There was nothing I could do to avoid that particular pothole given it was dark and there was traffic on the road there was nothing I could do."

Police filled out a collision report and listed the object struck as: Pothole.

"The police indicated that I would be able to personally file a claim against the City and County and the fact they already knew about this pothole meant that they weren't acting appropriately to take care of the problem," said Price.

She contacted Geico, her insurance company, which told her it would be filing a claim with the City.  The tire and rim damage is estimated around $2,000, not to mention the frustration of not having a car.

"The kids and I are bussing it and we're just trying to look at it as an adventure. The difficult thing is that my daughter has medical tests at the hospital so we've had to go back and forth on the bus to take care of those things," said Price, who has seven children including four biological children and three adopted children.

Drivers can fill out a pothole damage claim.  The City of Honolulu says in 2012 there were 59 people who filed claims.  Of them 17 were settled with $5,542 paid.  That's an average of $326 average per claim.

"The problem is the person has to pay all the costs out of pocket. They have to document it. They have to get estimates. Then they have to submit all that paperwork to the city and it could take anywhere from eight months to a year before the city will even rule whether they are liable," said Victor Bakke, an attorney who is not involved with this particular case.

Bakke says the city and state are responsible for the roads.  But he says Hawaii's streets are so bad it affects how insurance companies charge people in the state.

"Hawaii's roads, the condition has been deemed so bad they have been classified as rural driving as opposed to city driving. So actually that's why you hear that Hawaii pays higher insurance rates than a lot of states because our roads are in such poor condition," said Bakke.

"Geico or these insurance companies are not going to flip the bill forever on these things," said Bakke. "That's where the city is going to have a problem. If policy holders get together individually or through their insurance carrier, if somebody gets organized and starts attacking these claims in a systematic way the city is going to be flooded with these claims and they do have to respond to them."

Meanwhile the Price family is hoping the city will pay the full price of their damages.

To file a vehicle damage claim with the city and county of Honolulu, call the Department of the Corporation Counsel at (808) 768-5193. The city will send you a form. It does not have a damage claim form available online.

For the form to file a vehicle damage claim with the state click here.

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