Virginia man sues city over pothole damage to car

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) — A new study from the Richmond Department of Public Works revealed that 65 percent of Richmond’s roads are in poor shape. Those pavement problems have one longtime resident in the North Side suing the city for nearly $1,000 after he bottomed out in a pothole.

Resident sues Richmond over pothole damage to car. (Source: WWBT)

John Dorman says he was driving his car down Lamont Street, back in May, just two blocks from his home. Dorman says he was forced to veer to the right side of the road because of an oncoming car. He hit a large pothole, about five feet in diameter, filled with water.

Dorman’s tire and undercarriage are now misaligned. He had to have a tow truck move his 1993 Plymouth Sundance back to his home. A mechanic estimated the damage at more than $900.

"The undercarriage is twisted around underneath the car, and this wheel's pushed back all the way to the end of the fender,” said Dorman.

Dorman says his family depended on the car regularly, even though it was older. He filed a claim with the city, taking pictures and documenting the accident.

But administrators wouldn’t reimburse him repair costs, citing they hadn’t received any reports or complaints of that particular pothole. Dorman says he’s going to continue battling city attorneys before a judge.

Legal experts tell NBC12 that the city does have to be alerted to a maintenance problem and given a reasonable chance to fix it, before being held liable.

But Dorman points out that last May was one of the rainiest months in Richmond history. He says residents shouldn't be expected to report every pothole.

"You could have a thousand (potholes) within one neighborhood. You just can’t report every pothole,” said Dorman.

Dorman said crews did fill the pothole the following month, but he says it’s since receded, opening up again.

In years past, Richmond has doled out more than $20,000 a year to residents seeking pothole damages.

Just last week, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney proposed $16.2 million in his budget for road and sidewalk repair, calling the amount “historic.”

If you live in Richmond, you can report a pothole through the RVA311 website.

In you hit a pothole and your car is damaged, you can file a damage claim through the City Attorney’s office at (804) 646-7940. If your claim is denied, you can take further legal steps by filing a civil suit against the city.

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