UPDATE II: Can the Sioux Falls City Council form legislation to help with pothole damages to vehicles?

I actually think the Sioux Falls city council has the power to put a policy into place to create a contingency fund to help citizens and visitors pay for damages endured to vehicles due to the pothole crisis.

So what would this look like and how would it work? I’m not a legal beagle so this is my BASIC recommendation.

The fund could easily be created/estimated by doing a survey of mechanic shops over the past couple of weeks. For estimation sake let’s say it is 1,000 vehicles with an approximate damage rate of $200. The fund could be set at $2 Million and could easily come from reserves. Current city reserves are around $52 million (end of 2018).

How would you stake a claim? The easiest way would be thru a 3.21 notice that would be sent directly to the mayor’s office (which is turned over the city attorney). This form basically says that you were harmed by the city.

FORM: SDCL3.21 Notice of Claim


You would have to have a window of time that pothole damages could be reported. With a 3.21 notice that is typically 6 months.

There would also have to be a ‘window’ of when the damages happened. For argument’s sake let’s say February 1, 2019 – April 30, 2019 (or whenever the policy is put into the place by the council).

All receipts of work would have to have a legitimate time stamp or date on them, or would be subject to being thrown out.

Who would review the receipts? An employee board would have to be formed from different departments to review the receipts and determine if the work is ACTUALLY from pothole damage. For example if you had a bill for tire repair, oil change and replacing a windshield wiper, you would only be reimbursed for the tire repair. There would also have to be an open appeal process if you feel you were not compensated correctly.

Like I said, this could all easily be done by the policy makers (the city council) and would go a long way in rebuilding trust with citizens who have endured damages. The city council could choose to do nothing and let the mayor’s office handle the legal fiasco and ramifications, but if they get a head of this and put a fair process in place, this could go a lot smoother, unlike our roads.

UPDATE: Omaha has agreed to pay for pothole damages, full story HERE.

**UPDATE II: Many government entities have special processes which must be followed prior to suing them for damages. These processes are ostensibly created for other reasons but almost always have the effect of creating complex hoops which must be jumped through prior to making a financial claim for damages against them or suing them. You lose if you don’t jump through one of the special hoops. Many of the processes also shorten the statute of limitations which would normally apply. South Dakota has such a process and it is embodied in Chapter SDCL 3-21.

You must provide written notice to certain individuals (SDCL 3-21-x) and you must do so within 180 days of the incident event per SDCL 3-21-x. The actual South Dakota Notice of Claim law is at this link https://sdlegislature.gov/statutes/Codified_laws/DisplayStatute.aspx?Statute=3-21&Type=Statute .

When providing notice of damages, it is always a good business practice to be as specific as possible regarding the location, the time, the date, the persons involved and what happened.

Remember also, like most governments, the South Dakota executive, legislative and judicial branches agree that they should be allowed to lie to you without consequence but that it should be unlawful for you to lie to them. In other words, be as short and very clear with your facts. You do not need to give all detail in this form but do not stretch the truth. Be prepared to supply photos, invoices, medical claims and other information supporting your position.

This form was created by examining several forms filed with the City and using the language. The form provided is a downloadable, fillable Adobe type PDF document. When opened in an Adobe type Reader program you can type in your information. By filling out the form, two copies will be created. Sign both copies and save one for your records.

You may desire to mail the notice using a method that documents the delivery of the notice to protect yourself from a later claim you did not mail the notice. A signed witness statement to the delivery to the mayor’s office or USPS certified mail to the mayor.

There are potentially severe consequences for not providing the required notice correctly. If you have any questions you should contact an attorney.



#1 D@ily Spin on 03.22.19 at 8:34 pm

I spoke with a few citizens today. One professional mentioned there’s an Ap recruiting for a class action lawsuit. Litigation could cripple the TenHaken term. If the council keeps their head in the sand about this, put the sand in potholes and flush your heads instead.

#2 Lemming on 03.22.19 at 9:49 pm

Amen! I want some of that free money! I got an ol’ clunker thats been sitting in the garage for 2 years and I’m sure I hit a pothole with it back in 17? (Thie city was just as liable then as it is now). Will I have to proove what pothole I hit or do I go find one? Cause I know where I can find some big ones!

#3 Blasphemo on 03.22.19 at 10:03 pm

“…and would go a long way in rebuilding trust with citizens who have endured damages.” You’ve ID’d the crux of the matter, here. LOTS of frustration & speculation being expressed on social media. The city has been entirely mum to this point. Good grief. Say SOMETHING to soothe a bit of the rampant conjecture – most of it understandably cynical and negative – a recover some good will.

#4 l3wis on 03.23.19 at 7:34 am

Lemming, I get what you are saying, but if you actually read my post, you will see this would be for about a 30 day time period, not for the past 2 years. But to that point, anybody can file a 3.21 claim whenever they want to.

#5 D@ily Spin on 03.23.19 at 9:17 am

Wouldn’t it be easier, less cost, and more timely for the city to just fix the potholes?

#6 Blasphemo on 03.23.19 at 12:08 pm

Daily Spin: “Wouldn’t it be easier, less cost, and more timely for the city to just fix the potholes?” Of course. The point of your laser-straight rhetorical question should be obvious to most adults – particularly ones being paid taxpayer supported wages. But, stupid is as stupid does . . . .

#7 Theresa stehly on 03.23.19 at 1:20 pm

City of Omaha to pay for pothole damage

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Mayor Jean Stothert announced Monday afternoon the city of Omaha will be paying for pothole claims on vehicles made against the city between January 1 and March 18 of 2019.

#8 scottt on 03.23.19 at 3:45 pm

and the class action settlement will end up being two free drink tickets for the levitt.

#9 D@ily Spin on 03.23.19 at 8:25 pm

We’ll re-elect you if you fix the potholes and look the other way when you award 6 figure TIF’s to your friends and family.

#10 JD on 03.25.19 at 3:33 pm

I addressed the city with the fact that they can go around and make you fix your/there sidewalks without any rebuttal as to why the sidewalk was defective. Like there snow plows getting to close to curb and busting part of the side walk and just leaving it to the unfortunate home owner. As well…. using salt that not only eats our streets and cars up but everything’s it touches as it goes threw all are drainage systems and so forth. If we would of adopted Nikola Tesla’s free energy program we could of harnessed some heating cables in the roads just like the way they do tile floors. But who am I but a lousy home owner….