Vehicle damaged by a pothole? Drivers can file claim against gov't for reimbursement

Potholes are practically swallowing cars and our wallets in the D.C. area right now. Vehicles are suffering hundreds of dollars in damage. But did you know you could get that money back?

We didn't have to travel far to find a pothole in our area. Literally right outside of our television station, there is big one in the middle of the road.

But if a pothole takes out your tire or your suspension, the first thing you will want to reach for is your camera.

The roads have taken a beating this winter. Greg Farrell's car has been as well.

Potholes are peppering city roads like the George Washington Memorial Parkway and just about everywhere you turn.

The assault on Farrell's car came from the potholes on Military Road in D.C.

"It's taken out tires," he said. "I had to replace two already after buying four brand new ones just for the winter time."

What Farrell and many other drivers don't realize is you can file a claim for pothole damage against your local or state government.

AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend said there is no guarantee you will get your money back, but if you prove your case, you have a good shot.

"Use your iPhone or cell phone, take photographs of the pothole and your vehicle in close proximity to that pothole, and then timestamp the date to make sure that you can document everything," he said. "Take it to the repair shop. Get receipts. But again, documentation is the key."

Mechanics like Hugh Maplesden from Bethesda Collision Repair said the damage can be pretty costly.

"Maybe a couple hundred [dollars] and it can go up into the many thousands or it can even total a car potentially," said Maplesden.

Even if it seems like a pain, you might want to consider doing the legwork to prove your pothole case.

Some jurisdictions say a pothole has to have been reported first. So it has to be documented pothole that they didn't repair in a certain period of time.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, here is who you should contact to file a claim in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C.:

Virginia: Call the Virginia Department of Transportation's Customer Service Center at 1-800-367-7623.

Maryland: In Maryland you can file a written claim by going to the Maryland Treasury Department. You can also call (410) 260-7684 or 1-800-942-0162 to speak with someone in the insurance division.

Washington, D.C.: In the District, motorists can file a claim with the D.C. Office of Risk Management or at 202-727-8600.