Q. Dear Honk: Last week I was cruisin’ north on Vista Del Mar in the El Segundo/Playa del Rey area in my classic ’57 Chevy convertible. In the No. 1 lane there is a GIANT pothole. Of course I hit it with my left-front tire, causing damage. I haven’t yet gotten an estimate on fixing it. But it will cost, probably, $400 to $500. Can I contact the county/city and make them pay for this damage?
– Dave Kingsley, Torrance
A. With all of the various taxes Southern Californians face, you would certainly think a government should be on the hook, right?
Your first step, Dave, is finding out who owns the stretch of highway where the pothole lives, and what part of the government collects the claims. In most cities, the city clerk’s office is a good bet. Google “Caltrans” and “claims” for freeways and state highways.
Honk suspects you were within the confines of the great city of Los Angeles, where the City Attorney’s Office accepts the claims.
Go to lacityattorney.org/claims. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer‘s web page is easy to understand and offers a simple process to try and get your money back. A claim specialist will be assigned to the case and may call for more info.
The odds of getting your damage paid for?
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for Feuer’s office, kindly rounded up some stats for Honk.
The city paid out on 56 such claims, for a total of $24,366, in the fiscal year ending June 30. Fifteen times the city declined to pay out on a claim, lawsuits were filed, and a settlement or a judgment was paid out that fiscal year for a total of $7,085,999. Safe to say those lawsuits covered some serious accidents.
In all, 419 pothole-related claims were filed that year.
A big key to getting compensated is whether the municipality knew about the pothole before the accident so it could have fixed the problem. Did someone call up the city three days before and report it, and then city workers failed to hustle out there with some shovels and asphalt?
(Dave, by the way, ended up taking his Chevy in and getting the damage fixed for only $40; he was leaning against seeking compensation.)
Q. For the last of couple weeks I have been driving the 91 Freeway between Anaheim Hills and Buena Park. What is with all the tractor trailers driving in every lane except the carpool and fast lane? I do not like driving in the fast lane, because I am holding up all the Dale Earnhardt wannabes. I was under the impression truckers needed to be in the right lanes except for passing. Now, everyone is held back behind trucks and unable to see the traffic ahead. Your expertise, please.
– Kitty Yackle, Anaheim
A. That stretch, a major link to the Inland Empire, is heavy with semi trucks.
The law is pretty simple.
Unless otherwise posted, on a freeway with three lanes in one direction, a semi pulling a trailer needs to be in the far-right lane unless passing someone, then the passer can temporarily move into the middle lane.
On freeways with four or more lanes, those pulling along a trailer of some sort – including cars – can trundle in either of the far-right two lanes.
Out on the 91, there is at least one sign saying “TRUCKS OK” above the No. 3 lane where the freeway offers five regular lanes, so truckers are encouraged to slide into that lane at that point to transition to another freeway.
In most places where there aren’t such signs, CHP officers have told Honk they will cut some slack so the behemoth semis can get over early to prepare to hop onto another freeway.
To ask Honk questions, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk. Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk
Source: Orange County Register