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Can you Sue a City for Pothole Damage?

Posted in on February 8, 2020

The City of Denver patches between 60,000 and 100,0001 potholes every year. But it may not be enough when it comes to preventing pothole damage to cars on the road. When avoiding a pothole isn’t possible, your vehicle can be damaged or make road conditions even worse for other drivers.

What happens when you hit a pothole, and can you sue a city for damages? Our Denver car accident attorneys want you to know your rights regarding government liability for poor road conditions.

Is a City Liable for Pothole Damage?

You can sue a city for damages from poor road conditions if the city is negligent in failing to fix the pothole. Colorado law § 24-10-106(d)2 allows a person to sue a government entity for injuries resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, including pothole damage.

The government must be negligent in some way for them to be required to pay. Because the government is the defendant, there are special steps to make a claim.

Pothole Damage To Car

How Do I Claim Pothole Damage to My Car?

To claim pothole damage to cars or other vehicles in Denver, Colorado, you should take the following steps:

1. Take Photos of Your Vehicle and the Accident Scene

Like anything else that goes wrong on the roads, one of the best things you can do is take photos as soon as possible. If you haven’t already, take photos of your vehicle and the pothole.

2. Get Estimates or Receipts for Vehicle Repairs

Estimates and receipts of vehicle repairs from a technician or mechanic can help verify the amount of compensation that you deserve.

pothole accident

3. Research and Build Evidence About the Pothole

It’s time to do your detective work. To receive compensation, you must prove that the city acted negligently. That means proving that the city didn’t do enough to fix the pothole or monitor the roads.

It would be very helpful to prove that the city was aware of the poor road conditions. General information about the city’s road maintenance could be beneficial, too. Making a Colorado Open Records Act request to the City of Denver may help you gather this information.

4. Submit a Claims Notice to the City of Denver

When a claim involves the government, like the City of Denver, there are essential extra steps to follow when filing a claim. Before you file a formal legal claim, you must give the city notice of what happened. There are specific steps to doing this.

Colorado law § 24-10-1093 says that you must give notice to the appropriate government entity within 182 days of the incident. You must provide:

  • Your name and address
  • If you have an attorney, their name and address
  • A factual statement of what happened, including the date, time, place, and circumstances
  • The name and address of employees involved, if known from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • A statement of the damages suffered
  • The amount claimed

Where Do I Report Pothole Damage to Car in Denver?

To report pothole damage to a car in Denver, submit your claim online, mail, or deliver a notice of claim to:

Claims Dept., City Attorney’s Office

201 W. Colfax Ave., Dept. 1108

Denver, CO 80202

After you submit your claim, follow these steps to ensure you get the monetary payment you deserve:

  • Wait for a response – The city has 90 days to respond to your claim. Be warned – most claims are rejected. If they don’t respond, that counts as a rejection.
  • File a legal claim – If the city rejects your claim, you may formally file a legal claim in court. You file a summons and complaint and pay the filing fee. To win your claim, you must prove negligence on the part of the city—that they failed to take care of the roads appropriately, which is why the hole was there. You must also prove that your damages are from hitting the pothole.
  • Think about all the options – Hitting a pothole is a single-vehicle accident. Be sure to look at your own insurance coverage to see if your damages are covered.

What Damage Can Potholes Cause?

To tell if a pothole has damaged your car, look for visible signs of damage. In addition, pay attention to the feel of the vehicle as you drive it. Investigate further if anything feels unusual.

Poor road conditions may cause significant problems to parts of your car, including damage to:

  • Tires (flat tires), tire sidewalls, wheels, rims
  • Suspension
  • Scratches and dents
  • Wheel alignment (not driving straight)
  • Fluid leaks
  • Exhaust

When your car is damaged by road conditions that should have been repaired, you may be entitled to compensation for your property damage if you can prove the city was negligent.

pothole causes flat tire

How Can an Attorney Help With Pothole Damage?

When you’re seeking compensation for a pothole, you face an uphill battle. You have the task of proving that the city didn’t fix the pothole within a reasonable period of time. That probably means the city knew about the pothole or that it was there long enough that the city should have known about it. You must meet the legal standard of negligence.

In addition, you must file the proper notice with the city. If you don’t, it shuts down your claim before you can even be heard on the merits.

When you work with a personal injury attorney, you have an experienced professional to handle everything on your behalf. They can build the proof and manage the complex technical steps that need to happen to have your claim heard. In addition, they have the perspective to help you evaluate the entire situation and respond to the incident in the best way possible.


1Roberts, M. (25 March 2019). Everything You Need to Know About Potholes in Denver. Westword. Retrieved 18 February 2022.

2C.R.S. 24-10-106(d)

3C.R.S. 24-10-109

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Super Lawyers - Kyle Bachus
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
Super Lawyers - Darin Schanker
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyer
5280 Top Lawyers of Denver
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