Drivers seek money for damages after pothole tears up tires in Dallas




Posted on March 24, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 24 at 2:20 PM

DALLAS - Drivers heading south on Interstate 35 between downtown Dallas and Colorado Boulevard ran into trouble while driving over a large pothole around 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Robert Hampton said his front left tire was snagged when he couldn't manage missing the pothole despite trying to swerve away.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, but now I’m riding on a doughnut until I can get another rim,” he said.   

His rim was bent by the impact.

“I mean, to immediately go flat like that where I had little control over the vehicle, that was just shocking, and just too dangerous," Hampton said. "I’m really surprised there were no accidents.” 

Hampton and other witnesses say nearly a dozen other drivers pulled over after hitting the pothole, but Hampton was one of the only ones able to use his spare tire to replace the damaged one. 

“Everyone else except me had both tires out," he said. "It was just a line of tow trucks to pick them up." 

Brianna Stovall said she and her husband and 2-year-old son had to wait for two hours for roadside assistance. She said it was upsetting to her that in those two hours waiting for the tow truck, TxDOT failed to show up and block off the section of the highway where the huge pothole was taking out cars left and right. Stovall said she wants to be reimbursed for the nearly $1,100 she spent on repairs. 

“I would hope that we are entitled to some type of restitution from TxDOT or from the city just because this just seems like something out of the ordinary,” she said.  

Witnesses described the pothole as nearly three-feet long and two-feet deep. Stovall’s repairs consisted of replacing two tires, repairing her rims and getting the vehicle realigned.   

Hampton said he cannot afford to replace his $300 custom-made rim, let alone the tire that could cost him a couple of hundred bucks. He’s relying on his spare until a hearing with TxDOT. 

Officials said they blocked off the area Sunday night after receiving calls about the damage and fixed the pothole Monday morning. They also said when maintenance crews arrived that night, there were four vehicles stranded.  

“I think someone should be held accountable because we pay our taxes to maintain the road," Stovall said.  

She said she feels that TxDOT was negligent in not repairing the pothole, causing a chain reaction situation where they could have wrecked.   

Stovall took it upon herself to get several phone numbers from drivers parked on the shoulder of the highway that night. Among those drivers was one senior citizen WFAA called. She said the huge pothole took out all four of her tires, tearing a couple to shreds. 

TxDOT said the drivers can file a claim, but there is no guarantee they will get reimbursed, citing TORT laws that protect governmental entities from having to pay out in such situations. Negligence has to be proven on TxDOT’s part.

Officials say normally an injury or death has to occur when there is a safety hazard before a repayment is sent out to drivers. But, TxDOT vowed to investigate each complaint and concern individually.  

Drivers can fax their concern to the Occupational Safety Division in Austin at fax number 512-416-3302.