Making a Claim for the City to Pay for Damages

By: Meghan Dwyer
By: Meghan Dwyer

We’d like to give special thanks to Jeanne for sharing her story with us on Facebook!


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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Ever had your mailbox run over? Popped your tire at a railroad crossing? Well, you can always ask the city to pay for the damage.

23 News looked at Rockford's claim process and why fewer people are asking for the city's help this year in tonight's Operation Safer Streets Segment.

Jeanne Oddo said, “I was taking my son to school and i hit a pothole and by the time I got into the driveway my tire was flat. You couldn't dodge the potholes and they were large. So even going 20 miles an hour you can hurt your car."

So she called the city.

Oddo said, "I wasn't going to take no for an answer either."

The city came out, repaved the area in front of Whitehead School, and told Jeanne they would send her paperwork in the mail.

Oddo said, "About three weeks later I received a check to fix my tire.”

She received a four hundred dollar check. The city denies about 85 percent of the claims that come in. The other 15 percent they pay and they pay quickly. It’s much easier than going to court.

City Attorney Kerry Partidge said, "We do the claims process as a convenience for our citizens and as a courtesy so they don't have to go to court."

In 2011, 257 people filed claims with the city worth more than 400-thousand dollars in damage.

So far this year those numbers are way down. The city says that's because most of their claims are normally for pothole damage.

Partidge said, "It's been such a mild winter and the roads are holding up pretty well we've had a significant reduction in our pothole claims."

The city has also fixed many of the typical problem areas.

The city says it investigates all claims, but some eventually do end up in court.

Many of those claims get denied because under state law the city isn't responsible for a lot: it has immunity. For example: with potholes, the city doesn't have to pay unless they knew about the pothole before it caused damage and then had at least two to four days to fix it.


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