LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — Every year, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) fields hundreds of claims for vehicles damaged on state roads.
Last year alone, more than 700 pothole claims were filed by drivers.
That’s why Liz Salisbury was confident when she filed her claim with RIDOT earlier this year. She was on her way home from dinner with a friend and was driving down Twin River Road in Lincoln when she hit a pothole.
“The tire was completely flat and a friend brought me home,” Salisbury said. “I called AAA the next morning and had the car towed to a tire repair shop.”
Salisbury showed 12 News photos of the large pothole and the damage to her vehicle. She said she was advised to buy two new tires from her mechanic.
But the claim was denied because Salisbury filed it eight days later. Rhode Island law states that a driver has seven days to submit a claim, which includes weekends.
It was something Salisbury said she wasn’t aware of.
“I filed the claim on March 16 and they sent the letter of denial dated 3/16,” Salisbury said.
Under state law, if a Rhode Island resident’s car is damaged from a pothole on any state highway, causeway or bridge, they can recover damages of up to $300.
“It was really loud when I hit this pothole, it was big,” Salisbury said.
Salisbury said she didn’t know the law included weekends and is frustrated that she won’t be getting financial help from the state.
“People don’t realize because when you do everything you need to do to prepare for the claim, it won’t go through and I don’t think people realize that,” Salisbury said.
RIDOT said it denied 361 pothole claims in 2022. Year-to-date, RIDOT has only denied 55 pothole claims.
The reasons for claim denials vary, but RIDOT said there are three main reasons why they’re rejected. Those include missing the seven-day window, lack of proper documentation and the car involved isn’t registered in Rhode Island.