Three out of every four people had claims rejected, and those that got paid didn't get much.


CLEVELAND -- If you're looking to the city of Cleveland to help pay for repairs to your vehicle caused by potholes, don't hold your breath.

The Investigator Tom Meyer found that the city denied most claims last year.

Lorri Slivka says it was virtually impossible for her to avoid a pothole in March of last year while she was travelling on Triskett Road between East 141st Street and East 144th Street.

"The pothole caused damages to our car totaling $352.46," she said.

Slivka filed a claim with the city with all the required documentation, including proof of insurance, an itemized repair invoice and photographs of the damage.

She says the city informed her that it's not legally liable in this incident. Slivka said the city told her in a letter that "in order for the city to be responsible, the city would have caused the faulty condition or had notice of the condition for a reasonable period of time and failed to make a repair prior to your sustaining damage."

Slivka says she learned later from public records that the city had received a number of calls about potholes on the stretch of Triskett where she was driving, including one call that was marked "high priority."

"They shouldn't give the people false hope in receiving some sort of reimbursement for damages to their vehicle," she said.

City records show that 588 individuals filed damage claims last year. Of those, 431 were denied. That's three out of every four people had claims rejected.

The average payout was only $48, which repair shops say isn't even enough to pay for the cost of one new tire. Over the past three years, the city has paid an average of $67 per claim.

At Motorcars Downtown, service manager David Kennedy says his customers are paying about $400 each for damage caused by city potholes. Those repairs include bent rims, flat tires, broken suspension systems and wheels that are out of alignment.

Some Clevelanders said it's hardly worth filing a claim, especially with all the paperwork that's required.

"You just have to be very careful which streets to drive down," said one frustrated motorist who described the driving on East 71st Street between Chester and Euclid as "scary" because of all the potholes.

We asked the city for the reasons why so many claims are denied, but we didn't receive a response.

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