OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — More than 2,000 claims have been filed against the city of Omaha involving pothole damage. At last check with the city’s legal department a few hundred had been closed, and even less have been approved.
Paige Peterson filed a claim against the city after her vehicle hit several potholes in a row on March 13th. When she brought it into the shop the mechanic gave her a quote of $1,039.57. She then had towed it to her mother’s driveway and submitted her claim to the city.
On March 18th Mayor Jean Stothert held a press conference authorizing the city of Omaha to pay pothole claims filed against the city, something it hadn’t done in years. Previous claims were to be approved using the following criteria:
- The pothole that caused damage had to be reported to the city before the incident.
- The incident had to be made against the city from January 1st, 2019 through March 18th, 2019.
- It must have happened within city limits.
- The claim must include documentation of repair costs, including receipts.
- If an insurance company paid for part of the damage, documentation must be provided.
After reviewing the city’s pothole database and Peterson’s claim, 3 News Now found Peterson met all the requirements. But instead of getting a check Peterson got a letter from the city asking for more information, six weeks after she filed her claim. That letter asked Peterson for her vehicle VIN and license plate number. It also requested the exact location of the incident including the direction of travel and what lane she was in. The city also wanted her to go back and take photos of where it happened as well as photos of her damaged vehicle.
Peterson says she contacted the city to make sure it had everything it needed for her claim. Instead she says they gave her vague answers and asked if she would file the incident with her insurance, but Peterson only has liability insurance.
“I don’t have full coverage. It’s a 99 Honda Civic,” said Peterson.
More than two months have passed since Peterson filed her claim and she’s not the only one waiting for an answer. According to the city’s legal department 2,089 claims have been filed against the city. So far, the city has paid out 97 of those claims and denied 180 of the claims.
Before the mayor announced the change in policy 59 claims had been filed for 2019. Within a matter of hours after that, nearly 250 additional claims were filed.
More than a month ago 3 News Now asked to meet with the mayor to discuss pothole claims. Her office stated she would not be available until sometime after the college world series. The mayor’s office has still not provided a time or date for that interview.
Peterson says she was told she may not get an answer on her claim until September. A single mom, now enrolled in cosmetology school, Peterson says she can't wait that long.
“I feel like they are trying to get a way out of fixing my car,” said Peterson.
Peterson says until she gets an answer or some extra cash, her vehicle will sit in her mom’s driveway.
“Just kind of getting used to it sitting here. Leaking oil in my mom’s driveway,” said Peterson.
At last check with the legal department 217 of the claims still hadn’t been assigned a claim number. 3 News Now asked the city's legal department how much the claims have added up. As of 6/21, the legal department says the demand amount has reached a total of $1,041,372.36.