NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – After multiple rounds of winter weather this year, there are many potholes for drivers to dodge. For those who end up with damage to their vehicles, the state may offer reimbursement, but you have to meet specific criteria to qualify.

Whitney was driving on Ellington Parkway earlier this month when she hit a pothole, “And all of a sudden, I just heard like a – crack and then my car kind of – did that thing where it slows down and you’re like, oh, great.”

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She ended up needing two rims, four tires, and the total cost was $1,600. Whitney contacted the City of Nashville who then told her to file a claim with the Tennessee Department of Treasury. Tennessee is one of just a few states that reimburse drivers after they end up with pothole damage. However, Whitney’s claim was rejected.

“Today, I found out that they’re claiming they didn’t know about them beforehand. The only way to reimburse you or anything like that is if they had prior knowledge of the potholes, which they are claiming they did not,” said Whitney.

So News 2 reached out to the Tennessee Department of Treasury to learn more about how this process works. Shelli King, the Director of Communications for the Tennessee Department of Treasury, says that to qualify for reimbursement, drivers have to prove the state was negligent.

“The same Tennessee law that allows an individual to file a claim for damages due to negligence on behalf of a state agency also says that the individual must establish the foreseeability of the risk and give notice to the proper officials. They have to report the risks and the agency needs to be aware of it in order to make the proper repairs,” said King.

In 2020, only seven claims out of 1,035 were approved. Previous years have similar numbers. While most claims are not approved, the Tennessee Department of Treasury wants to help the drivers who qualify for reimbursement.

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“The most important thing is to go to the Tennessee Department of Treasury and look for tort liability. That will explain the program, how it works, and what you need to do to file a claim,” said King.

King says that many people are under the false impression that any driver can get reimbursement for pothole damage. “We don’t want people to have to be upset because they have wrong information in the first place. And we don’t want them blaming you because they heard on television. But we also want to make sure that we are helping the right citizens that we are getting people who need assistance to help them with the damages. So we want to do the right thing. We just want to make sure that they understand what the process is.”