After pothole damages multiple cars, state denies damage claims

A pothole damaged more than half a dozen cars on I-85, now the state is denying some drivers' damage claims. FOX 46 spoke with one driver who said he is frustrated after having to shell out more than $300 in repairs.

"It sounded like I hit something. I knew I hit something. It felt like somebody hit me in the back,” said Jamel Hayes, who hit the pothole on December 2.

His ordinary drive home from work quickly turned in to a costly repair when he hit the pothole just before the Brookshire Boulevard exit on I-85 in Charlotte.

"I actually had to max out one of my credit cards to pay for this. It was a burden on me for the holidays,” said Hayes.

FOX 46 was there on December 2 as Jamel Hayes and more than half a dozen other drivers hit the massive pothole. One car was so heavily damaged it had to be towed away.

Hayes blew both driver side tires on his 2018 Toyota Camry, costing him $320. Last month he filed a claim with the state attorney general office.

"Until I saw the story on FOX 46, I did not know I could file a claim,” said Hayes.

The state responded to Hayes Thursday with a letter saying his damage claim was denied and NCDOT is not responsible for property damage. It came as a surprise for Hayes who placed a call to NCDOT before filing his claim.

"At the time she also said she believed they were going to cover these, but not to quote her,” said Hayes.

That's also what FOX46 was led to believe.

In our story from December 3, we found the following statement on the NCDOT website:

“If a vehicle was damaged because of a pothole, NCDOT generally submits the driver's claim, as well as its own report, to the N.C. State Attorney General's Office, which will determine whether NCDOT knew about the pothole and made an effort to repair it within a reasonable length of time.”

Also On December 3, an NCDOT spokesperson told FOX 46 the area of I-85 near Brookshire Boulevard was a problem before and had actually been patched just months prior.

"Wow. Just to know that they won't cover it, it's terrible. I am a taxpaying individual that's trying to come out and do the right thing and I feel like they should take care of it,” said Hayes.

NCDOT told FOX 46 that 13 drivers requested claim forms from that one single pothole. There was no reason given from the attorney general for the denial.