In the Northeast, pothole damage affects 1 in every 5 drivers.
Potholes may not seem like a huge risk to your car, but in the United States, 15 percent of drivers need repairs due to potholes each year. Even if the pothole damage is from public roads, you can’t always get these repairs covered if you lack collision insurance. That means these holes in the road could be a big problem for you, especially during the colder times of year.
The most recent national data on pothole damage is from 2016. To find out about the state of potholes in 2022 and in the future following infrastructure improvements, we analyzed additional data from the White House, Congress, and the Federal Highway Administration. Here are our key findings:
As of 2016, 15 percent of U.S. drivers had vehicle repairs due to pothole damage in the past five years. However, that number differs by region.
|Region||Percentage of U.S. drivers who experienced pothole damage requiring vehicle repairs from 2011 to 2016||How common pothole damage is in this region compared to the national average|
The Northeast has the highest potholes per capita at 24 percent more than the national average. In the mid-Atlantic and New England states, 1 in 5 drivers had to get car repairs due to pothole damage.1 That amounts to nearly 22 million drivers. Across the country, that number rises to over 66 million drivers who have had repairs due to pothole damage.2
|Average cost of pothole damage repair||Percentage of U.S. drivers|
|$250 or less||64%|
|$1,000 or more||6%|
The cost of repairing pothole damage ranges from $250 to $1,000, with an annual total cost of $3 billion and an average repair cost just over $300.
With over 238 million licensed drivers in the U.S. in 2016, assuming one repair for each pothole damage claim, that means there were over 34 million pothole damage claims per year. That’s over 93,978 claims related to pothole damage per day, for those who have pothole coverage under collision insurance.
On Nov. 15, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed and became law in a bipartisan victory.3 Part of the act focuses on improving highways in poor condition, which includes potholes. Overall, the federal government is spending $273.8 billion to fix these highways.
|State||Average annual cost to drivers for driving on roads in poor condition||Miles of highway in poor condition||Amount expected for federal-aid highway apportioned programs||Amount expected for federal-aid highway apportioned programs by number of miles of highways in poor condition|
|District of Columbia||$1,100||402||$1,100,000,000||$2,736,318|
On average, the federal government will spend $1.57 million to repair every mile of highway in poor condition. Based on the data from the White House, there are no underserved states; the more miles of highway in poor condition, the more funds allocated to a state.
Here are some other interesting findings regarding the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:
If you get pothole damage from driving on public roads, can you sue the government for the cost of your repairs under a subrogation claim? The answer depends on where the damage occurred.
Not all states let residents sue the state or state employees. Some states, like California, will only reimburse you for your property damage, not your bodily injuries. Find out if you can sue your state government for pothole damage in the chart below.
|State||Can you sue the state for pothole damage?||Notice deadline after date of pothole damage||Damage caps|
|California||Yes, but only for property damage, not injuries||6 months||None|
|Colorado||Yes, but only for property damage, not injuries||6 months||$350,000 per person
$900,000 per occurrence
|Delaware||Yes, but only if the action was done in bad faith or with gross negligence||None||None|
|District of Columbia||Yes||6 months||None|
|Florida||Yes, if you can prove negligence or wrongful action||3 years||$200,000 per person
$300,000 per incident
|Georgia||Yes||1 year||$1 million|
|Indiana||Yes||9 months||$700,000 for a single person
$5 million for a single occurrence
|Iowa||Yes, if you can prove negligence and willful or malicious conduct||2 years||None|
|Kansas||Yes, if you can prove negligence||4 months||$500,000|
|Kentucky||Yes||1 year||$200,000 for a single claim
$350,000 for multiple claims
$200,000 for a single person
|Louisiana||Yes||1 year||$500,000 per person for personal injury or wrongful death|
|Maryland||Yes||1 year||$40,000 to a single person for injuries|
|Massachusetts||Yes, if you can prove negligence or wrongful acts||2 years||$100,000|
|Minnesota||No, even if damage is due to employee negligence||N/A||N/A|
|Mississippi||Yes, except for acts of omission||3 months||$500,000|
|Missouri||Yes||2 years||$300,000 per person
$2 million per occurrence
|Montana||Yes||4 months||$750,000 per claim
$1.5 million per occurrence
|New Hampshire||Yes||3 years||$475,000 per person
$3.75 million per incident
|New Jersey||Yes||90 days||No subrogation allowed unless there is permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement, or dismemberment with medical expenses over $3,600|
|New Mexico||Yes, if you can prove negligence||90 days||$300,000 for property damage
$300,000 for medical expenses
$400,000 for all other damages
$750,000 of total liability for a single occurrence
|New York||Yes||90 days||None|
|North Carolina||Yes||3 years||$1 million minus state’s commercial liability insurance|
|North Dakota||Yes||3 years||$250,000 per person
$1 million per occurrence
|Ohio||Yes||2 years||No subrogation claims|
|Oklahoma||Yes||1 year||$25,000 for property claims
$175,000 per person for other losses
$1 million per occurrence for other losses
|Oregon||Yes||2 years||$2,073,600 per person for personal injury claims
$4,147,000 per occurrence for personal injury claims
$113,400 per person for property damage claims
$566,900 per occurrence for property damage claims
|Pennsylvania||Yes||6 months||$250,000 per person
$1 million per occurrence
Can only recover lost income, pain, suffering, medical expenses, property losses, and loss of consortium
|Rhode Island||Yes||3 years||$100,000|
|South Carolina||Yes||2 years||$300,000 per person
$600,000 per occurrence
|South Dakota||Yes||6 months||None|
|Tennessee||Yes||3 years for property damage
1 year for personal injury
|$300,000 for bodily injury or death of 1 person
$700,000 for bodily injury or death in 1 accident
|Texas||Yes||6 months||$250,000 per person for bodily injury or death
$500,000 for a single occurrence of bodily injury or death
$100,000 for a single occurrence of property damage
|Vermont||Yes||20 days for a bridge or culvert
3 years for personal injury and property claims
18 months for small claims ($2,000 or less)
|$500,000 per person
$2 million for a single occurrence
|Virginia||Yes||1 year||$100,000 or the amount of the state’s insurance coverage, whichever is greater|
|Wisconsin||Yes||4 months||$50,000 for claims against municipal entities and employees
$250,00 for claims against the state and its employees or negligent operation of any municipal entity
Even if you can sue the government for pothole damage, you’ll still want to file a claim with your own insurance provider or pay for the repairs out of pocket. Even if your subrogation claim is approved, reimbursement will take a while and usually isn’t worth it for minor damage.6
Also, you’d have to prove that the government failed to maintain the road safely and reasonably — negligence, in other words. In this context, negligence means that the government knew or should have known about the road conditions and did not repair them in a reasonable amount of time.7 Again, the more efficient and cost-effective method is to get reimbursed for the pothole damage under collision coverage.
Collision insurance isn’t a minimum car insurance requirement in any state. It’s supplemental coverage that’s typically bundled with comprehensive coverage, which covers events other than collisions, such as natural disasters. Collision and comprehensive coverage are part of full coverage, which also includes liability coverage.
Although collision coverage includes pothole coverage, it won’t cover the normal wear and tear of a car due to bad road conditions. It needs to be a specific incident of colliding with a pothole.
If you hit a pothole and your car is damaged, will filing a claim make your rates increase? Unfortunately, according to our car insurance research, the answer is yes. Hitting a pothole is a single-vehicle accident, so car insurance companies consider it your fault.
The only exception is when you hit a pothole because another car hit you. So yes, most of the time, pothole damage claims will increase your auto insurance costs.
Pothole damage is extremely common in the U.S., particularly the colder regions, and can be costly. Learn how we conducted our research below.
Our research was based on third-party sources from the following organizations, companies, and government agencies:
Fact Sheet: Pothole Damage. AAA Automotive Engineering. (2016).
Highway Statistics 2016. U.S. Department of Transportation. (2017, Sep).
H.R.3684 – Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Congress.gov. (2021, Nov 15).
White House Releases Updated State Fact Sheets Highlighting the Impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Nationwide. The White House. (2021, Aug 4).
State Sovereign Immunity and Tort Liability in All 50 States. Matthiesen, Wicket & Lehrer, S.C. Attorneys at Law. (2022, Jan 13).
Is pothole damage covered by car insurance? Progressive. (2022).
Vehicle Damage Due To Poor Road Conditions: Who Is Liable? Nolo. (2022).