It seems that since half the cars in Montreal are currently getting new tires put on thanks to potholes, the city has finally heard our cries and is ready to start dealing with the potholes.
In what the ville is calling an "intensive pothole repair campaign," Montrealers have been given the ability to report particularly treacherous potholes to the city via their website, by phone or online.
Even better, there are ways to be compensated by the municipality, according to CAA.
TL;DR It's not easy to be compensated for damages to your car caused by potholes, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. It just takes some DIY-lawyering, and I've broken it down into simple steps for you below.
To report a pothole online, click this link that will then ask you to enter an address or find the pothole's location on a map. The beta page is currently up on the City of Montreal's website, where Montrealers are given the opportunity to report potholes in online, in person, or by phone.
While you are not able to sue or seek compensation of damages from the city due to road conditions, you can sue the Quebec Ministry of Transport or the city for carelessness, negligence, or misconduct when it comes to maintaining the state of the roads.
In order to do that you must have proof that the pothole was already reported to the authorities before you encountered it. If, after being informed, the city did nothing about the pothole, they are open to claims of carelessness, negligence, or misconduct.
This is because the city is responsible for road maintenance, particularly in an area where road damage was already reported. In regards to highways, the responsibility falls upon the Ministry of Transport. Know who you are holding accountable based on where the pothole was.
Considering that there is now an online dossier of all the reported potholes in the city, it should be no problem to acquire the necessary documents you would need to prove that the pothole had been reported prior to your incident.
Other evidence that can further help your case includes lack of warning of the danger, size of the pothole (width and depth), an estimate of costs to repair your vehicle, testimony from a witness that can vouch for the existence of the pothole and its impact.
The municipalities and the various Ministry of Transport divisions are not liable for damage to tires and suspension systems. By going to an Approved Auto Repair Service and receiving a full estimate of damages you will be able to include any damage to "wheel rims, wheels, steering components, etc.," according to CAA Quebec
You can still be compensated for tire and suspension damage, but only if the judge is satisfied with the claim of "carelessness, negligence, or misconduct in maintaining the road."
To make the claim against your municipality or city you must act within 15 days, by writing a notice of intent to claim damages, sent by registered mail to the clerk in the area where the pothole is located.
To demand financial compensation (sue for damages) you have six months from the date of the incident to bring the damage claim to Small Claims Court. If the damages are more than $15,000 you will likely see a higher court.
To make a claim with the Ministry of Transport the limit is three years, though the longer you wait the harder it will be to prove the state of the roads at the time that your incident occurred. Full contact details here.
You can always consult your insurance company to see if you may be better off making a claim with them instead.
For more information on the process above, similar legal cases and other issues regarding your automotive rights, read the full article at CAA Quebec.