October 17th 2011 I hit a piece of sectioned out road that caused just shy of $600 worth of damage to my car.
Despite several people telling me that trying to get the city to pay for it would be a wasted effort I went through with it and on April 9th 2012, I was compensated in full for the damages.
Because first hand information on exactly how to get compensated in Toronto is a little scarce I have assembled my experience in a step by step format in the hopes that one day it might help one of you out.
The first thing I did…
After the initial impact I swore, a lot. I cursed myself for not seeing it, cursed the traffic around me for not letting me avoid it, and of course cursed the city for leaving it there.
Once I finished all of that I checked my car for any leaking fluid, bent wheels, etc I came to the conclusion that the only visible damage done was a flat spot in one of my Equips.
The second thing I did…
After calming down I went home to get my camera and tripod and once back at the scene I took plenty of photos of the piece of road and lack of signage warning motorists of it’s prescience.
To get paid you have to prove that the city (or contractor) was negligent so take as many photos as possible in the event they repair it soon after your claim in the hopes of sweeping the issue under the rug.
In my case while taking pictures the owner of the house the hole was in front of came out and informed me he had been contacting the city for weeks to finish the job because he could hear people hit it inside his house. I noted his name, address, and phone number, along with the person he was had been in contact with at the city.
You might not be able to do this but it can’t hurt to try and knock on a few doors (if possible) to see how long the road has been in disrepair.
The photos I submitted are below:
I also took the photos below in case they needed further proof that the hole was indeed capable of causing damage to a vehicle, I didn’t end up having to use these.
The Third Thing I did…
This was the email I sent with a few changes made for this post.
To whom it may concern,
At 7:30pm on Monday October 17th 2011 I was traveling westbound on Burnhamthorpe Road when I struck a pothole located in front of house 1234567. This pothole was not caused by road shifts or degradation due to weather but by a negligent construction crew who had yet to return and finish the job.
The hole was NOT marked in any way shape or form.
Once I realized my vehicle was damaged I returned to take the attached pictures of the hole that did the damage.
It was at this time that I met Mr. & Mrs. Smith residents of 124567 Burhnamthorpe Road who informed me that the city has been made aware of this hole multiple times and has failed to do anything about it.
At 9:30pm Monday October 17th I left a message with Dan Polen of Transportation services (416-394-8579), with whom the Smiths had been in contact with, informing him of my situation.
As there were no construction signs in the area marking the road work I believe the city should be held responsible for this damage.
I hope to receive a prompt reply to this email regarding my situation.
Thank you for your time.
The most important things to put in your email is the date, location of the incident, and which direction you were traveling.
Again the more detail the better.
My car began to make some very unfavorable noises the next morning so I took it over to Advance Power House for a suspension inspection.
They concluded that my pillow ball mounts took the brunt of the damage and had to be replaced.
After learning that I got them to put the estimate on paper knowing that to be compensated I would need a paper trail, later I got Nextmod to provide me with an estimate for repairing my bent wheel.
The sum of my damages was as follows:
- Wheel Repair – $252.25
- Pillowball mounts – $293.80
Finally I waited…a lot.
The city claims department emailed me back on October 20th 2011 (three days after my initial email) and a few days later their insurance company asked for photos of the damage along with written estimates. Once they had this they looked for the contractor responsible for the work.
I should mention at this point once the city has identified the contractor it is up to you to stay on the contractor to pay, the city doesn’t care because they have contracts set up to protect themselves.
This first contractor let me know that they didn’t do the work in question and that their site was much further west and had documentation to prove it. So I went back to the claims department and I waited again for them to find the correct contractor.
On January 27th 2012 I was put in touch with the correct contractor and after already waiting four months I was pretty tired of the entire ordeal so I started calling once a week until the situation was resolved.
When dealing with situations like this (as frustrating as they are) I have found that the key is to be polite but stern, otherwise they don’t take you serious.
After about a month of calling twice a week and not getting anywhere I again contacted the city’s claims department to apply a little more pressure on the contractor (which they did my mailing a letter… city isn’t up on email evidently) and I let the contractor know I was looking into small claims options.
Two weeks later on March 23rd 2012 I was told I would be receiving compensation for my damages and finally on April 9th 2012 the money arrived.
After about six months, 60 emails, and at least 25 phone calls the ordeal was over and I finally got my money.
The compensation system is designed to wear you down, no doubt about it, but it is completely possible to receive money is most cases.
If you have any questions, or are in a similar situation post up in the comments and I would be glad to lend a hand.