Limits on when county will pay for pothole damage

A filled pothole on Crahen Avenue NE in Grand Rapids Township. (May 28, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The county is responsible for maintaining its roads, and it will sometimes pay up if a pothole damages a citizen’s car.

But not in Kelly Everett’s case.

“I figured I hit the pothole once I heard the clunk, clunk,” she said.

Debris caused by a pothole on Crahen Avenue NE in Grand Rapids Township. (May 28, 2015)
(Debris from the Crahen Avenue pothole.)

Her minivan had a dented rim and flat tire after hitting a pothole on Crahen Avenue NE north of Michigan Street in Grand Rapids Township. It cost almost $200 to fix, even with used parts.

“It’s a very big pain,” she said.

Everett had seen stories from 24 Hour News 8 about the city or county paying for repairs if damage was caused by a pothole, so she contacted Kent County.

She got a reply that read in part, “Under state law MCLA 691.1403, the Kent County Road Commission cannot be held liable for damages due to a road defect.”

The problem is that no one had previously reported the pothole Everett hit, so the county was not liable for the damage it caused.

“Unless we had knowledge and failed to fix it, then we’re not responsible,” said Kent County Road Commission Director of Maintenance Jerry Byrne.

He said he looked up the pothole complaints and did not find a record of the one Everett hit.

“I just think it’s very unfair,” Everett said.

After a call from 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday, the road commission filled the pothole she hit along with a couple others along Crahen Avenue. But that’s all it can do.

A filled pothole on Crahen Avenue NE in Grand Rapids Township. (May 28, 2015)
(The filled pothole.)

City or county road crews have up to 30 days to repair a pothole after it is reported. If the pothole isn’t fixed in time and then it causes someone damage, then the city or county is responsible and has to pay for repairs.

“If you see a pothole report it, for the next person, I guess,” Everett said.



File a pothole damage claim with the Michigan Department of Transportation

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