Winning a claim against the City of Omaha for pothole damage isn't easy


OMAHA, Ne (FOX42KPTM) - During this time of year our streets tend to look more like swiss cheese than smooth, paved roads. That can lead to flat tires and banged up cars.

"Sometimes you have no choice but to hope for the best when you drive over one," said Matt Skaff, who is tired of potholes.

Skaff was forced to make that choice back in February. He says one of those nasty holes by Westroads blew out one of his tires.

"It felt like I ran into a brick wall."

Skaff took pictures of the pothole and also snapped a photo of the damage done to his car. He filed a claim with the City of Omaha with the hope he would get some help paying for his busted tire, but that didn't happen. To this day, he wonders why.

"A tease is what it really is."

Attorney Jeff Bloom says the City of Omaha gets about 100 claims a year for damage caused by potholes. He says payouts are rare. In the past two years, he says nobody has actually fought city hall and won.

"We get the phone calls," said Bloom. "There can be a little bit of frustration I'm sure."

He says don't blame city hall. Omaha is actually protected by state law. There are several things that have to happen in order for the city to pay out. City hall has to know about the pothole and it must have enough time to actually fix it. Bloom also says the weather can be a big X factor.

"Potholes can pop up one day after we fixed it the day before."

He says the paperwork also needs to be thorough.

"We like to know as much detail as possible about the pothole. What street they were on? What's the nearest cross street? What lane it was in and the date and time they hit the pothole? That does help in our investigation."

"I tried to be as complete and thorough as I could," said Skaff.

Skaff told FOX 42 News the information he provided didn't seem to matter when he sent in his claim.

"There is a process, but it's basically like a bridge to nowhere."

He's now calling for a change to the system.

"There needs to be something different than what's available right now."

He says as long as potholes are around more damage is sure to happen.

"The worst I've seen and I've lived here my whole life."

Remember, if you plan to file a pothole claim there are certain procedures you'll want to follow. First, you must file a written letter with the city clerk. You should include your name, address and details about what happened and where. Second, submit two to three estimates for the cost of repair or replacement. Make sure you submit copies of bills and receipts. Finally, make sure you file your claim within one year of the date of the incident.

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