Hard to miss, expensive to fix: How to get help paying for car parts damaged by potholes

A local family says it's not fair that they're footing the bill for what they say is a state problem

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – For days, many people have been reporting the locations of potholes around the Valley, big and small. One family, in particular, is having a tough time with them, saying they now have to cover the cost of fixing their car that was destroyed by a pothole.

After hitting a massive pothole near the Glenwood exit on Interstate 680 north last Sunday, Gabriella Davila says she’s scared to drive.

“I saw the pothole right in front of me, but there was a car to the left of me and a car coming to the right of me so I couldn’t move,” she said.

After hitting the pothole, she felt the tires on the left side of her car pop. She then lost control of her ability to steer.

“Within five minutes, I was in all three lanes, sideways, and almost got hit by four different cars,” Davila said.

She took her car to the shop the next day with her mother, Tricia Conti, where they were told the damage was severe.

“The alignment underneath my car, the left rod — which is back by my back left tire — and my rims and both of my tires,” she said.

But, what’s even worse than the damage is the amount of money it’s going to cost to fix these parts.

“$890 and some odd cents and I just, I wanted to just pass out. I was like, wow,” Conti said.

Both say it’s not fair that they’re footing the bill for what they say is a state problem.

“Maybe if they were to fix the potholes correctly the first time, we wouldn’t have to go through this year after year after year. But, somebody has to have some accountability. It shouldn’t be us,” Conti said.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), people may have a chance at getting refunded for the cost of damages, but only if they hit a pothole on state-maintained roads. Even then, the decision is not up for ODOT to decide.

“We forward you information to file a claim with the Ohio Court of Claims, and basically you would file all of the paperwork through the courts and it would be up to the court to decide if you would be reimbursed for your damages or not,” said Brent Kovacs, a public information officer for ODOT’s District 4.

This protocol only applies to ODOT-maintained roads. For county or city streets, people would need to contact their local road department.

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