According to the findings of a AAA study published in The Virginian-Pilot, potholes cost American drivers approximately $3 billion a year in car damage alone. The average cost of a single repair is $300. These figures do not take into account costs associated with personal injuries, such as medical care, lost wages and emotional duress. When potholes cause accidents in North Carolina, who pays?

According to the journal, North Carolina highway officials promise to fix potholes within two days of a driver reporting them. To report a pothole, a driver must visit the NC Department of Transportation website and submit a complaint regarding the whereabouts of the hazard. From there, the state assumes control. Highway maintenance engineers sift through the logs, find the potholes in question and fill them.

What happens, however, if a request slips through the cracks and a driver sustains considerable damage? According to NCDOT, a person who suffers injury or property damage because of a pothole, or for any other road hazard for which the state is responsible, can file a tort claim for reimbursement for losses. To file a complaint, an injured party must download and fill out a Citizen Incident Statement and mail said statement to the NCDOT location in the county in which the incident occurred.

However, to recover compensation for damages a pothole caused, you must show: 1) That the NCDOT knows about the pothole and 2) it failed to make a considerable effort to repair the road within a reasonable amount of time.

If pothole damage occurred in a contracted work zone, NCDOT would forward the complaint to the contractor. The contractor then assumes liability for damages.