Chicago Driver Challenges Rejected Pothole Damage Claim

A Chicago driver said the city is at fault for damage to her car caused by a pothole. But she said even with a mountain of evidence, the city won’t take the blame.

Emily Mensching said she was driving on West Peterson last May when her car started shaking.

“I heard it the second it happened and I thought I had just popped a tire,” Mensching said.

In fact, two of her tires popped and her wheel rims were cracked. She paid a local car dealership more than $1,400 to repair the damage.

Mensching filed a 311 report with the city. She also said she saw other people had filed similar 311 reports about the same location.

“Clearly, I was one of several people who had their car damaged by this,” Mensching said.

Mensching and her husband returned to the scene the next day and took photos of cars hitting the same pothole. She said there were also hubcaps near the pothole.

NBC 5 Responds spoke to the dealership that repaired Mensching’s vehicle. One of their service employees said he saw two cars on the same day damaged by the same pothole.

Mensching said that is a big reason why she said the city should hold itself accountable.

“I’d like them to pay for the damages, because it’s not my fault that they didn’t fix the road and they knew it was a problem,” Mensching said.

Mensching filed a claim with the city to recoup her repair costs. But the city rejected her claim. She said the city told her she was speeding based on an on-site assessment by city workers. However, she said she never received a speeding ticket.

“It just felt like they were trying to blame me for their lack of diligence in taking care of their roads,” Mensching said.

A city spokesperson told NBC 5 Responds there were no open complaints about the West Peterson pothole at the time of Mensching’s incident.

Still, motorists who have their pothole claims approved should not expect to receive the entire amount they’re seeking. After you gather your police report, records, estimates and receipts and file a claim, get ready to wait several months for answer. It’s ultimately up to Chicago City Council to approve or deny your claim.

According to the city’s committee on finance, in 2015 the city paid $812,500 on 4,081 claims.

The city has since repaired the pothole on West Peterson.

Mensching said she is talking to a lawyer and may file a lawsuit against the city in small claims court.

“I understand it’s Chicago and we’re going to have potholes,” Mensching said. “I’d be a lot happier to know that I’ve been vindicated and not being accused of being a bad driver because clearly they knew that this was a problem.”

Click here to file a pothole claim.

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