DOT faces multiple lawsuits a year from potholes

You see them all the time—potholes on state roads and highways. What do you do if one of those potholes ruins your car?

“They were having a normal day like most New Mexicans. They were driving on I-40,” says Richard Valle.

Attorney Richard Valle says his client was approaching Rio Grade on I-40 westbound when he hit something.

“It was a crummy repaired pothole that there was some spots on it that they had fixed once. Then there’s a rebar piece that’s sticking up,” he says.

It was so bad, it cracked his rim.

“When you’re traveling freeway speed. There’s not much time to react. You do expect the road to be passable that you can drive on it without significant problems,” says Valle.

So, he filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation. As it turns out, DOT gets lawsuits and claims every year in the Albuquerque area.

“Pothole damage on state roads maintained by New Mexico Department of Transportation in Albuquerque, we have fewer than 15 a year,” says Thom Cole with the New Mexico General Services Department.

The Department of General Services handles claims and lawsuits on behalf of the DOT. When they get a complaint like Valle’s lawsuit, they check it out.

“We proceed to investigate that claim if it’s valid, ask them to get estimates, and we pay the claim,” says Cole.

Valle says the DOT refused to accept responsibility for the damage to his client’s car. That’s why he’s now suing.

“You hope that DOT acts proactively and addresses these problems because as taxpayers, we don’t want to have this problem ourselves,” he says.

A spokesperson for the DOT says they could not comment on the lawsuit.

When the DOT gets a pothole complaint, it works to get the pothole filled as soon as possible.

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