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POTHOLE PATROL: 3 tips to protect your pocketbook

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Anyone who has ever hit a pothole knows they are jarring -- especially when the pocketbook gets hit too, but even though avoiding them is the easiest way save, Fox 9 News found out drivers might not need to pay.

The city of St. Paul has four or five crews out on the streets every day. Armed with hot asphalt, they're hoping to patch up those axle-busting bumps in the road and smooth out the mid-March moonscape revealed by the melting snow.

1. Proceed with caution

The best way to fend off a big bill is to avoid one altogether. Drive gingerly in problem areas, and adjust around the obstacles when safe to do so.

2. Report potholes regularly

Help crews help you remove the potholes from your path by reporting those that need attention. Depending on the road, the city, county or state may need to be notified.

3. File a damage claim

With as cavernous as some can quickly become, potholes can do serious damage to a variety of vehicles -- but each city and county has a way to file a damage claim.

Each city and county offers a way to file a damage claim, and most provide information on how to do so online. The Minnesota Department of Transportation's website explains clearly when they are liable for damage.

"We've had about 21 claims so far in the state, but that's just since the beginning of the year and it also hasn't gotten into our heaviest season, which comes right after the spring thaw," Denise Workcuff said.

Yet, few claims for pothole-caused damage are paid out because:

1. The cavernous culprit has to have been reported, and;
2. Crews must have had a reasonable amount of time -- 24 to 48 hours -- to fix it.

"If there's a snow and ice event that happens in between there, then we need to have a little more time because snow and ice is a priority," Workcuff explained.

In Minneapolis, between 20 and 40 pothole damage claims are submitted in a typical year; however, only a few are found to be warranted.

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