State: Only 1% of pothole damage claims approved

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Rain fell in East Tennessee on Monday and Tuesday, leaving roads in rough condition in Knoxville.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation reported that they got around 20 calls about potholes around Knoxville and about half were on I-640 West near the Western Avenue exit. WVLT News counted 11 cars on the side of the road there Tuesday night, all with tire-related issues.

Some of those drivers made their way to the repair shop Wednesday. Potholes could mean more than a flat tire. Depending on the car, Fisher Tire Co. in Knoxville, said it could cost hundreds or even more than $1000.

"Once you hit it -- the damage has been done," Ray Fisher, the owner, said. He said it could cause damage your car's alignment, wheels, and tires. He added that newer cars are worse off because of smaller tires compared to older model cars.

TDOT said crews were sent out to the area and all the potholes were patched. They said, however, that drivers need to keep an eye out for holes in the road as temperatures drop tomorrow morning.

Officials said to keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you, and if you see a pothole, try to safely avoid it. Pull over in a safe area if you hit one and need too.

TDOT said to call them to report potholes. For the Knoxville/Upper East Tennessee area, call 865-594-2408. For other regions, go here.

If you do hit a pothole and damage your vehicle, you can file a claim through the Division of Claims Administration. However, on Thursday, the claims administration told WVLT News that only about one percent of those such claims were approved in 2018.

According to an official, 1,200 applications were sent in for approval last year, but only 12 were approved.

They say that the 'burden of proof' is on the driver, and drivers have to prove the state's negligence. Investigators will look at multiple factors including whether or not a pothole has been fixed before and whether or not TDOT had time to fix it if it has been reported previously.

Drivers have to submit documentation along with their claims which includes an estimate, and, any incidents with potholes have to occur on a state road for them to be considered for approval.

You can go here to download a claim form or call 615-741-2734 for more information.