Fighting for the right to sue over potholes

TOLEDO Who pays for damages if you drive through a pothole in the city and damage your car or injure yourself or others? A Toledo woman is fighting in court for the right to sue the city of Toledo.
In February of 2016, Maggie Cromer says she was driving to work when she hit a pothole along Detroit near Arlington. Cromer contends it caused her to lose control of her car and hit a guardrail.
Her attorney Katie Harris says Cromer spent a lot of time in the hospital with a broken jaw and other injuries. "She wound up crushing her jaw and had to have at least two surgeries. Her jaw was wired shut for a period of time, she had horrific bruising and pain all around her face, it was a very traumatic experience," says Harris.

Harris says the city knew about the pothole because city crews were working in the area demolishing a house right in front of the pothole four days prior to the accident, but didn't report it or fix it. "We're just trying to make sure we do whatever we can to help her through it and make sure we hold the city responsible for the roads they're meant to maintain." A lower court threw the lawsuit out, so the case is being considered by the court of appeals to see if it can go to a jury trial.

The city is firing back saying that the pothole was never reported, they didn't know about it therefore the city is not liable. "The plaintiff herself she testified that she didn't see it, we didn't see it. The size of the pothole doesn't indicate that we saw it," says Jeff Charles, the Chief Litigator.

And that's the determining factor in whether you can hold the city responsible for damages if you hit a pothole. If there's been a report to the city, it has to be repaired in a timely manor. That time window can be subjective depending on weather conditions and construction schedules.

The case is expected to be decided by the Appeals Court in a couple of months.