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Transportation and Mobility

The Storms Brought (A Lot) More Potholes. Here’s How To Get Money For Repairs If Your Car Is Damaged

A car is visible in the mud under a roadway that has collapsed. A row of barricades and police tape block access at the right.
Sinkholes are like potholes on steriods. We have thousands of potholes happening all over L.A. in the aftermath of last week's rain.
(Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images)
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If you drive in Los Angeles, you’ve probably experienced the panic that sets in when your tire hits a gaping pothole. That heavy “clunk” noise begs the question: can I afford to fix my car right now?

Those clunk noises are happening a lot more at the moment because of recent storms. Elena Stern, a public information director at the city of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, says the rain has deteriorated the integrity of our asphalt. Between Dec. 30 and Jan. 17, people have called in 2,407 potholes — a big uptick.

“It's significantly more,” Stern said. “And you know, we experience storms every year, but this was an extraordinary series of storms, and so took an extra toll on our roads.”

That’s roughly 133 reports a day, a jump compared to the 30 a day on average the Bureau of Street Services has had in the past. L.A. County Public Works, which oversees the unincorporated areas, also saw an uptick to 54 potholes reported between Jan. 4 and Jan. 16.

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These asphalt craters are some of the most annoying parts about driving, and they can be costly. Here’s what to do if you come across them:

How Do I Report Potholes?

L.A. city and unincorporated areas of the county rely on us to report potholes. So if you see one, you should definitely let them know. Once they’re aware, a pothole could be filled in a matter of days.

When former mayor Eric Garcetti was in office, he directed the street services bureau to shorten its turnaround time to five days, but Stern says they’ve become even faster. As of last Tuesday, Stern said about 812 of the city’s reported potholes had been filled already.

“It’s actually two days for us to get to a pothole, for us to receive information about it and to fill it,” Stern said. The L.A. County response is also a 48-hour turnaround.

To report a pothole in the city, call 311 or make a request using the city's MyLA311 website and “Submit Service Request” feature. You can keep tabs on your report’s progress by following up with MyLA311 using your ticket’s tracking number. According to the bureau, you can also ask for a street service supervisor to call you with updates.

If you’re in an unincorporated part of L.A. County, call 800-675-HELP (4357), or you can log a request with Public Works’ online pothole form.

My Car Was Damaged By A Pothole. What Can I Do?

If this happens to you, you can and should ask for money back! Car damages repairs from potholes can quickly rack up bills in the thousands. Get paid!

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If your car is damaged from a pothole, take pictures of it and your car. Then, fill out and submit a claim form online with the city of L.A. (if that’s where you had a close encounter with a pothole) to seek reimbursement for the damage. If the damage happened in an unincorporated area, you’ll have to print and mail a different claim form.

There are time limits to this, so make sure to file your claim as soon as possible. For damages to personal property, there's a six-month filing period. Check out these tips for winning a claim.

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