Letter to the Editor: State Liability for Pothole Damage

Why should NYS exempt itself from liability if a motorist goes over a pothole and car is damaged?

Shouldn’t NYS treat itself no differently than local governments?

This is pothole season.  If your car is damaged because you went over a pothole on a New York State owned road  between November 15 through May 1)you are out of luck. If your car is damaged on a town, city or village owned road you can get reimbursed only if the municipality was provided with advance written notice and did not make the repairs.

I think the state law exempting the state from liability for pothole damage on its roads between November 15 through May 1st should be changed. New York State should be treated no differently than local governments treat motorists. If you drive on a town, city, village road and go over a pothole and your car was damaged the local government is responsible if the municipality had received written notice and did nothing about it.  If you drive on a state owned road and your car is damaged due to the pothole the state doesn’t have to give you a penny!

The New York State Legislature has not taken adequate steps to maintain state owned roads over the years. As an example, there are many potholes on Knollwood Road in Greenburgh, on Central Ave, on portions of Dobbs Ferry Road and on Broadway in the river villages.  If you drive over a pothole on Central Ave and you get a flat, the cost of the repairs won’t be paid for by New York State –even if residents complained about the pothole to the state and the state ignored the complaint.

The New York exemption from liability from Nover 15 through May 1 covers the entire winter—when nearly all pothole damage occurs. Many motorists spend hundreds of dollars each year repairing their cars due to poorly maintained roads.

New York State has not adequately funded road repairs on roads they own. Some of the state owned roads are in horrible condition. It’s costly for many motorists whose cars require additional repairs due to the poor roads they travel on.   Former Assemblyman Tom Abinanti pushed for state legislation when he was in the Assembly that would have enabled motorists to get reimbursed for pothole related damages if the state had received written notice about the potholes and did not respond.

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor

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About the Author: Paul Feiner