FAQ
Potholes
What causes potholes?

Potholes occur when snow and ice melt as part of Michigan's seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. The resulting water then seeps beneath the pavement through cracks caused by the wear and tear of traffic. As the temperatures cool to freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise. As the weight of traffic continues to pound on this raised section – and the temperatures once again rise above freezing – a shallow divot occurs under the surface and the pavement breaks, forming a pothole. A pothole is typically fixed by cleaning out the loose debris and filling it with hot and cold asphalt patch.

See how a pothole is born

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How do I file a claim for damages to my vehicle caused by a pothole?

Reporting a pothole is different than submitting a claim for damages caused by one. If you believe your vehicle has sustained damages on a state trunkline, from a pothole or other cause, you can contact the MDOT office in the region where the damages occurred, about filing a damage claim. The state will consider an award only for the damages beyond what has been paid by your insurance company.

Claims under $1,000

Upon receipt of your damage claim under $1,000, MDOT will investigate the incident. We will make every effort to respond to your claim within 90 days. Please be advised that the majority of claims are denied under governmental immunity laws.

The incident must have occurred on a state trunkline. Location must be specific to trunkline number, direction of travel, lane of travel, distance from and name of nearest cross road. Most state trunklines are freeways (i.e., I-94, I-96, I-696 or M-14, M-1, US-10, US-24, etc.). If you are not sure you were on a state trunkline, please contact your local MDOT office or county road commission to verify road jurisdiction. Claims must be submitted to the region or TSC office where the damages occurred.

Claims Procedure

  1. Download the PDF file for Form #3600
  2. Please print and completely fill out the form. Incomplete forms will be returned. Forms must be signed and notarized for consideration. Be sure to keep a hard copy for your records.
  3. Attach documentation to support your claim, such as copies of car repair estimates or copies of actual bills paid for out-of-pocket repairs.
  4. Return the completed form and your documentation to the MDOT region or TSC office located in the county where the incident occurred.

Note: Please be advised that under governmental immunity laws MCL 691.1402 and MCL 691.1403, you must show that MDOT failed to maintain the actual roadbed of the highway in reasonable repair to prove a highway defect claim. You also must show that MDOT knew of the condition and had an opportunity to repair it, or that the condition existed for more than 30 days. The state only will consider damages not covered by your insurance company.

Claims of $1,000 or more

If your alleged damage claim is $1,000 or more, you can recover only by filing a lawsuit against MDOT. You should consult a private attorney if you want to pursue this option.

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