Omaha Halts Acceptance of Pothole Claims

The City of Omaha has returned to its long-standing damage claims policy for vehicle damaged caused by potholes.

In mid-March, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert authorized the pay­ment of claims for vehicle dam­age caused by potholes, provided claims met specific criteria. That temporary exception has ended.

Historically, the City of Omaha has not paid claims for vehi­cle damage, as allowed by the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, according to a city news re­lease.

“Typically during and after the winter months, potholes are re­paired quickly. However, we did not have a typical winter,” Stothert said in the release. “I understand the hardship many people faced with unexpected vehicle repairs. We made a good-faith decision to help citizens pay for damages and I believe we have achieved our goal.”

Since Jan. 1, the city has re­ceived 2,393 claims. As of May 24, more than half have been reviewed and assigned claim numbers, 104 offers of payment have been made for a total of $31,650.33 and $21,620.91 has been paid. The remaining claims are being processed.

The city has denied 156 claims, for reasons including the pothole was not within the Omaha city limits, was located in a private parking lot, or on the Interstate. Claims have also been denied if the pothole had not been reported to the city previously or if the per­son filing the claim was not the owner of the vehicle. 

“Every claim is thoroughly re­viewed. We are spending taxpayer dollars, and we must be sure we are paying for damage that can be directly attributed to pothole dam­age,” Stothert said.

Claims will be paid from the city’s contingency fund.

Claims dated after June 1 will be reviewed by the Law Department under existing city policy, which follows the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, enacted in 1969. The act allows cities a reasonable amount of time after receiving notice about a pothole to make repairs prior to incurring potential liability.

– City of Omaha

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