Case of the Month: The Cost of a Pot Hole

Sep 30, 2015 by

The driver hit a pot hole, which broke the vehicle suspension and caused him to swerve into parked cars. The repair bill was almost $7K. GEI was assigned to review the repair invoice, photographs of the accident scene, and photographs of the vehicle to determine if the suspension was damaged by the pot hole or if the suspension was damaged by the accident.

The vehicle sustained major body damage on the right front.

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Photographs of the accident scene showed a narrow roadway, with vehicles parked on both sides of the street.

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The photographs of the right front tire on the vehicle showed that the tire was still inflated and in good condition.

When a vehicle’s tire and wheel come in contact with a pothole that would be deep enough to cause suspension damage, the tire and wheel typically are also damaged and the tire would typically become deflated immediately prior to the suspension damage.
The photographs of the right front tire and wheel showed no structural damage to the tire, such as a cut or bulge in the tire sidewall, and no warping, bending, or deformation of the rim of the wheel.

Several photographs of the suspension, taken from multiple vantage points, showed no evidence of contact between any of the damaged suspension pieces and the edges of the asphalt roadway.

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The potholes in question were shallow and would not have caused the damage observed to the lower control arm or the damage to the tie-rod from driving into or over these two shallow areas of the roadway.

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What usually happens when a vehicle is driven over an uneven surface, such as shown in the photos of the accident scene, is that the driver feels the bump in the roadway but does not lose control of the vehicle.

If the driver did lose control of the vehicle in this incident, it could possibly have been because of a loose grip on the steering wheel or a lack of focus. Either momentary loss of driver concentration, a quick driver distraction, or a temporary loss of steering control of the vehicle would have resulted in striking the parked vehicles in this narrow roadway.

In summary, the damage to the lower control arm and to the tie-rod on the right side of the vehicle was caused by the accident impact, not from impact with the pot holes.

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