January 10th, 2020

Provincial pothole damage claims almost never successful

Halifax -- A Freedom of Information request received by the NDP Caucus reveals that fewer than 8 per cent of claims filed through a program meant to help when vehicles are damaged by potholes or hazards are successful. The Road Hazards Claims and Investigations Program is meant to help people whose vehicles are damaged on provincial roads. Last year, of the 910 claims made, only 47 were successful.

“Every winter we hear from people whose cars are damaged because of potholes and they’re stuck with hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in repairs. But under this Liberal government, people rarely get the help they need,” said Susan Leblanc, NDP Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spokesperson. “It is unacceptable that when someone’s vehicle is damaged because of the condition of provincial infrastructure they very, very rarely get compensated. People should be able to rely on the government to maintain the roads.”

Derrick Tobin lives in North Dartmouth and had $1300 of damage to his car when he hit a deep pothole at the Lancaster intersection coming off the 118 Highway last winter.

“When it happened I thought I must have been hit by another car, the hit was so hard. The front tire of my car popped and the rim cracked in half,” said Tobin. “When I called the department they advised me to get my car fixed right away and to submit my claim which should have been processed within 30 days. However, the response came after 2 months and numerous inquiries. In the end, my claim was denied and then they ignored me for months when I tried to appeal the decision. I feel as though the whole process is unaccountable and unfair.”

In the last five years, the number of successful complaints has dropped every year. In 2014/2015 almost 8 per cent of claims were successful. Only 5 per cent of claims were approved last year.