Road crews across the state are busy repairing potholes after a long winter of freezes and thaws that buckle pavement. Some motorists who hit those road craters believe the city should be liable for damage to their vehicle. Joe Apel, a University of Northern Iowa grad student, told KCRG-TV he was shocked by the massive pothole he struck last week in Cedar Falls.

It was at least eight inches deep and, according to Apel, should’ve easily been spotted and repaired. “The city hall is 1,900 feet, a little less than that, from this location…so, for them not to see it? I don’t know,” Apel said. While Apel is still waiting on a final damage estimate from his insurer, he noted his car is less than a year old and the encounter with the pothole could have a longterm economic impact.

“I think value has definitely been lost on it. We all know when you drive a new car off the lot it depreciates significantly. Now that I have to file a claim on it, I think the resale value has been affected,” Apel said. Cities do have a duty to keep streets in good repair, but Iowa law makes it difficult to hold cities liable for damage caused by potholes — as it depends on whether the city knew the pothole existed.

Apel said the pothole he struck was fixed the day after he reported the accident to the city. Apel has not formally filed a claim against the City of Cedar Falls yet. He said it’s also possible he will make an insurance claim and his insurer would then look to the city to recover the repair costs.

By Dave Franzman, KCRG-TV