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NY immune from liability during ‘pothole season’

March 5, 2018

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LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Potholes continue to be a burden this time of year but who is responsible if it damages your car?

The state is responsible for Route 9 but during pothole season, they are immune from liability.

One local family learned this the hard way.

Potholes are taking some drivers by surprise.

“My daughter said four other people had the same issue while she was there waiting for AAA,” Dave Calabrese, of Clifton Park, said.

Last week, Calabrese’s daughter hit a pothole, which she thought was only a puddle.

It bent the rim, blew the tire, and destroyed the hubcap.

Calabrese called the state for reimbursement, only to be told they were on their own.

“You should be able to expect to drive down the road without permanently damaging your car, and that’s not the case.”

The New York Highway Law explicitly exempts the state from liability from damages caused on state roads between November 15th and May 1st – so, pothole season.

County and locally owned roads can be liable anytime but there’s a catch.

“The rule of thumb is did the municipality have notice,” Mario Cometti, Partner at Tully Rinckey, said. “Were they made aware of the pothole? I know that sounds strange but they actually have to have what’s called ‘actual notice’ or ‘constructive notice.’”

Drivers can also report persistent potholes on state roads to 1-800-Pothole so it can be repaired before the damage gets worse.

“Any information you can provide that’s always helpful and crews will add it to the work list,” Bryan Viggiani, of New York State Department of Transportation, said. “We try to hit both the worst spots and the highest volume spots first.”

If crews cannot make a quick fix right away, they will try to mark off the area. It will act as a warning to other unsuspecting drivers.

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