TOPEKA (KSNT) – Every year the City of Topeka receives claims for vehicle damage at the city’s expense. How many claims and how much money was paid out by the city in 2023?
Channel 27 News issued a Kansas Open Records Act request on the total number of claims and the monetary amount paid by the city. As of Nov. 16, 2023, the city has paid out a total of $23,104.32 in 2023. The amount paid out was nearly 20 times more than in 2022 when the city paid out a total of $1196.20 in vehicle damage claims.
In 2023, the City of Topeka had a total of 113 claims with 37 claims made alleging vehicle damage and 15 alleging tire damage. None of the tire damage claims were paid out.
A total of eight vehicle damage claims were approved for payout, four times more than in 2022 when only two claims were paid out. In 2022, both claims paid out were for pothole damage. Of the claims paid out in 2023, only one was for alleged pothole damage.
On Nov. 6, USA TODAY released a report on the worst pothole problems in the nation based on Google searches for “pothole,” “potholes,” “pothole repair,” “pothole damage” and “pothole complaint”. Topeka was in the top 50.
According to AAA, 44 million drivers had to pay for pothole repairs last year with an average repair cost of $406.
“These same drivers ended up with an average of two pothole-related repairs signaling that America’s roadways need immediate attention,” a AAA report said. “AAA urges government officials and departments of transportation to focus on improving road conditions, prioritizing areas most in need of repair.”
On Nov. 4, a Topeka woman requested the City of Topeka help pay for damage caused by attempting to avoid a pothole. In Topeka, the claimant has the burden of proof and must provide evidence that the city is at fault. Claims greater than $35,000 must be approved by the Governing Body.
Notwithstanding the emotional merits of a claim, the City shall not, as a general rule, settle any claim unless there is substantial evidence, in the opinion of the City Attorney, that the City may be legally liable.Ord. 20183 § 1, 5-21-19
Those who have suffered damage to their vehicles due to potholes are encouraged to send claims to the Office of the City Clerk. The city attorney will then reach out within 10-14 days to discuss next steps. The City of Topeka can take up to 120 days to investigate a claim and lawsuits are not allowed unless those 120 days have passed or the claim has been officially denied. Claims can be filed online by clicking here.
Potholes in the city can be reported by calling 785-368-3111 or by submitting a SeeClickFix ticket by clicking here. To stay up to date on the latest local news, click here to download the KSNT News app for IOS or Android.