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Motorists pursuing damages from Indiana due to I-69 potholes

DALESVILLE, Ind. — Dozens of drivers have filed tort claims seeking money from the state of Indiana after their cars were damaged while driving on a 15-mile (24 kilometers), pothole-afflicted section of Interstate 69.

The problematic stretch of highway extends between mile markers 219 in Pendleton and 234 in Daleville, The Star Press reported . Forty claimants are pursuing damages for repairs to brake calipers and rotors; rims and wheels; tires; improper wheel alignment; suspension way bars and other vehicle parts.

Some people making the legal filings said they regularly see drivers replacing tires on the shoulder of that crater-filled section of I-69.

Chris Polo, who drives from Fishers to his job as a chef at Muncie Community Schools, said his car hit a pothole Dec. 14, denting both wheels on the right side. Polo said he couldn’t see the craters to avoid them because it was dark. He filed a tort claim for $378.26.

None of the 20 claimants contacted by newspaper has received a payment thus far. The state has 90 days to approve a claim, which is considered denied if it is not confirmed within that time.

Lester Bush, transportation manager at Fort Wayne Community Schools, said his claim has been in limbo for longer than 90 days.

Bush said he couldn’t avoid hitting a pothole in a construction zone because his car was wedged between a semitrailer on his right and a concrete barricade on the left. Mechanics told him his car needed four new tires. The bill came in at $1,005.58.

The state wrote to Bush denying responsibility for the damage. The liable parties were two contractors employed by the Indiana Department of Transportation to fill the potholes, the letter stated.

Claims can be denied for other reasons, including if they were not submitted in a timely manner, INDOT not having notice of the pothole, and the pothole being so new that there hasn’t been enough time to make repairs, according to the Indiana attorney general’s office. What constitutes sufficient time is contingent on the weather, the number of complaints, holidays and other circumstances.

The department said it received 193 reports about I-69 between Pendleton and Daleville from October through February, although not all of those were requests to fix potholes.

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