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Who is Responsible for Michigan Pothole Damage?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

It’s widely known that Michigan roads are in poor condition due to severe weather conditions, heavy traffic, aging infrastructure, and insufficient funding. This not only leads to driver frustration but also results in significant wear and tear on vehicles.

Agencies in charge of roads and highways must ensure their safety for public use. However, the state’s governmental immunity laws and the mix of state, county, and local road ownership complicate the compensation process, making it tricky to figure out where to file reimbursement claims.

If poor road conditions led to an accident that injured you, our car accident lawyers can examine your claim to identify who is responsible for the pothole damage and assist in securing the compensation you deserve.

How Do Potholes Form in Michigan?

Potholes in Michigan are a frequent issue, mainly due to the state’s unique weather conditions. They start when water seeps into tiny cracks in the road. The water freezes and expands as temperatures plummet, making the cracks larger.

This freeze-thaw cycle repeatedly stresses the road surface. Over time, these stressed areas break down into potholes, especially with the added wear from daily traffic. Drivers encountering bigger potholes can cause severe damage or cause an accident.

Damage Caused By Pothole-Related Accidents

Accidents caused by potholes can lead to various types of damage, affecting both the vehicle and its passengers, including:

  • Vehicle damage. Impact with potholes can lead to issues like tire blowouts, rim damage, and harm to the vehicle’s undercarriage, including the suspension system, which can be expensive to repair.
  • Physical injuries. Vehicle occupants can suffer from injuries such as whiplash, muscle strains, or concussions due to the sudden jolt caused by hitting a pothole.
  • Collision risk. Striking a pothole can cause a driver to momentarily lose control, increasing the risk of sideswiping or rear-ending another vehicle. A crash can cause life-altering injuries or fatalities, depending on the severity.
  • Traffic disruptions. Accidents or breakdowns caused by potholes often lead to road blockages or lane closures, disrupting the flow of traffic, extending commute times, and increasing the risk of accidents.

Who is Responsible For Pothole Damage to You or Your Vehicle?

Specific entities may be liable for the repairs if you’re dealing with pothole damage in Michigan. Here’s a breakdown of potential parties who might be responsible for the damage to your car and any injuries you’ve sustained:

  • Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). MDOT is responsible for maintaining 10,000 miles of the state’s highway system, including roads that begin with M, I, or US designations. This includes major highways and interstates like Interstate 75, M-43, or US 23.
  • County Road Commissions. Michigan has 83 county road commissions that are responsible for maintaining a major portion of the road network, specifically 90,281 miles of county roads. These commissions handle the upkeep and repairs of these roads, including pothole management.
  • Local Municipalities. Local city streets, totaling about 21,396 miles, fall under the jurisdiction of individual municipalities. These local government entities are responsible for maintaining and repairing the roads within their city limits, including fixing potholes.

Filing a Pothole Damage Claim Michigan

Filing a Pothole Damage Claim Michigan

Filing a pothole damage claim in Michigan requires you to follow specific procedures, depending on which entity was responsible for road maintenance where the incident occurred. If you have a claim for less than $1,000 that falls outside immunity laws, you can do the following:

  • Download and fill out Form 3600
  • Sign the form and have it notarized
  • Attach all supporting documentation
  • Keep a copy of the form and documentation for your records
  • Submit the completed form and documentation to the MDOT regional office in the county where the incident occurred
  • For incidents within an MDOT work zone, use Form 1119D

For damage claims that happen on non-MDOT maintained roads, refer to the following information on where to file for various county road commissions:

County Filing Procedure
Crawford Visit website for instructions.
Call: 989-348-2281.
Emmet Fill out form, email to claims@mcrcsip.org.Call: 231-347-8142 or email cellis@emmetcrc.org.
Kalamazoo Fill out form, submit to riskmanagement@kalcounty.org. Call: 269-381-3171 or email info@kalamazoocountyroads.com.
Kalkaska Fill out form, deliver to office at 1049 Island Lake Road, Kalkaska, MI 49646. Call: 231-258-2242.
Kent Contact Traffic and Safety Division at 616-242-6900.
Livingston Submit request on web portal. Call: 517-546-4250 or email mail@livingstonroads.org.
Macomb Fill out form, submit by fax at 586-463-8671 or email to svan@rcmcweb.org.
Marquette Fill out form, mail to MCRCSIP Claims Department, P.O. Box 1825, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. Call: 906-486-4491 or email MCRCAdmin@marqroad.org.
Mecosta Fill out form, mail to MCRCSIP Claims Box 15067 Lansing, MI 48901. Call: 231-796-2611.
Monroe Fill out form, mail or email reception@mcrc-mi.org.
Call: 734-240-5102.
Montcalm Fill out form, mail to MCRCSIP Claims P.O. Box 15067 Lansing, MI 48901. Call: 989-831-5285 or email info@montcalmroads.com.
Montmorency Visit office at 11445 M32, Atlanta, MI, 49709. Call: 989-785-3334.
Oakland Submit claims via website, email at dcsmail@rcoc.org, or mail to Road Commission for Oakland County, ATTN: Risk Management, 31001 Lahser Road, Beverly Hills, MI 48025. Call: 248-645-2000.
Otsego Fill out form, mail to 669 W. McCoy Road, P.O. Box 537, Gaylord, MI 49734. Call: 989-732-5202.
Schoolcraft Use pothole damage form on website. Call: 906-341-5634.
Shiawassee Contact commission directly at 989-743-2228. Visit website for more information.
Van Buren Submit claims form in person or by mail to 325 West James Street, PO Box 156, Lawrence, MI 49064. Call: 734-761-1500.
Washtenaw Submit electronically at wcrc@wcroads.org or in person at 555 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. Call: 734-761-1500.
Wayne Fill out damage claim form with Wayne County Risk Management – Claims Division and return by mail or in person to 500 Griswold, 20th Floor, Detroit, Michigan 48226. Call: 313-224-7766.
Wexford Fill out form, mail it to MCRCSIP Claims, P.O. Box 15067, Lansing, MI 48901. Call: 231-775-9731 or email admin@wexfordcrc.org.

What if You Have a Claim for Over $1,000 in Property or Personal Injury Damages?

You can seek damages for claims over $1,000 through a personal injury lawsuit. Our experienced car accident lawyers can help you explore compensation options and gather evidence to support your claim.

  • No-fault coverage. Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws are an option for compensation for pothole damage. This coverage often includes payment for medical expenses and wage loss.
    If your policy has collision coverage, you may be able to receive funds to pay for repairs to your vehicle as well. Our property damage claim attorneys can help you review your insurance policy to maximize your claim under these no-fault provisions.
  • Lawsuit against MDOT. There are specific requirements and deadlines when considering a lawsuit against MDOT for pothole damage. Before initiating a lawsuit, you must file a Notice of Claim within 120 days of the time of injury. This is a legal document that informs MDOT of your intention to seek compensation and details the nature of your claim.
    Your claim needs to describe the damage, identify where it happened, and show evidence that the road was poorly maintained by MDOT, leading to the damage. Our legal team can help you prepare and file the Notice of Claim, making sure all legal steps are followed within the required timeframe.
  • Lawsuit against another driver. If a pothole leads to a collision with your vehicle by another car, you could potentially sue the other driver. This applies particularly if the driver was negligent, like being distracted by texting and failing to notice the pothole, resulting in them swerving into your lane.
    Our attorneys can assist in determining who is at fault and seek compensation for any damages resulting from their carelessness.

Get Skilled Legal Representation for Your Pothole Claim

Navigating pothole claims in Michigan can be challenging, especially with concerns about liability and the state’s immunity laws. At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., we offer professional legal services to guide and support you through each stage of the process.

Our qualified lawyers will help identify who’s responsible, prepare and file your claim, and take legal action if needed. We’re committed to making sure you get a fair settlement for the damages you’ve suffered.

Contact us today so we can review your case, determine who is responsible for pothole damage, and help you get the funds you need to pay for your injuries and property damage.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Murray McPhee is an accomplished legal blogger who is on a mission to help everyday people understand their options when suffering a personal injury.

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