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Should Montreal compensate drivers for cars damaged by potholes

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One driver got fed up enough with the damage done to his car by a pothole, that when his claim with the city for $1200 in repair bills was turned down – he decided to take the City of Montreal to small claims court and sue them. Erik Choueke, who happens to be a lawyer, was driving on Cote-St-Luc Road during the winter of 2017 when he hit the pothole that broke both the axels on his car. The hole was more than six feet in diameter and between six inches and one foot deep. He claimed an amount of $2,218.28, not only to cover the cost of repairs but also for the loss of time, stress, cost of alternate transportation and inconvenience. He was only awarded a total of $945.30, that included 5% in interest and $150 for legal fees recently – but he won. He beat the city.

According to CAA-Quebec, you ‘cannot hold a municipality or the provincial government liable for material damage to your vehicle’s tires or suspension system due to road conditions. But despite that legal restriction, you can still sue a municipality or the Quebec Ministry of Transport for carelessness, negligence, or misconduct. The burden of proof, however, rests with the driver’. You would also have to prove it was a case of carelessness, negligence or misconduct, need evidence (i.e. – witnesses, pictures, lack of warning signs), a repair estimate from a recognized auto shop and prove the pothole had already been reported to the city before the incident. *For details go to: https://www.caaquebec.com/en/on-the-road/advice/tips-and-tricks/tip-and-trick/show/sujet/pothole-damage-claims-and-compensation

Perhaps it is time for the city to take more responsibility. Drivers in Montreal have been dodging an ever increasing number and size of potholes on the roads for decades. It is not only because of the weather and freeze-thaw patterns of the seasons, but it is also due to neglect and bad planning not just by the present city administration, but the previous administrations as well. This past season has proven to be one of the worst, causing all types of serious, costly damage to cars and it is the owner who has to pay for it all.

By: Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca

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