By Anne Yeager
So imagine how Abby Minnix-Wilson felt a month ago westbound on I-70 near Broad Street when she hit a pothole that forced her off the road.
“It was definitely nerve-racking to be on the side of a busy freeway in Columbus during rush hour and not have a lot of wiggle room between yourself and the cars going by you at 70 miles per hour,” said Minnix-Wilson.
The first thing she did when she got home was file a claim with the Ohio Department of Transportation, or ODOT.
The agency then files an investigation report about the claim within 60 days.
Abby’s second move was to file with the Court of Claims to try to get her money back. In the 1970s, the state legislature created this reimbursement process so people like Abby can have a recourse to try to recover expenses from a state agency.
Mark Reed is the clerk with the Court of Claims.
“To win a pothole case, you have to show that ODOT was either negligent in the way they maintain that particular road or the way they maintain all state roads,” said Reed.
He said proving the state was negligent isn’t easy because typically the driver or even ODOT doesn’t know about the pothole until the driver hits it.
“What you have to do is that you have to prove that ODOT either knew about the pothole or more likely should have known,” Reed told Court News Ohio-TV. “And the best of evidence of that frankly is ODOT themselves.”
If the state knew that there was a pothole and hasn’t been able to repair it, ODOT usually settles, Reed said. But it is up to the Court of Claims to decide, as it hears and determines all civil actions filed against the state and its agencies. There is no hearing, no trial, no jury.
Minnix-Wilson will hear whether she is reimbursed by the end of the summer. Until then, it gives her some piece of mind.
“It was a very nerve-racking experience but at least there will be some, hopefully restitution for everything I had to deal with,” she said.