CHESAPEAKE-- Drivers whose cars have been damaged by potholes while driving on the interstates this winter may be out of luck when trying to get the state to pay for repairs.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has a one-year, $5,691,748 contract with TME Enterprises.The Chesapeake-based company maintains interstate roadways in the south side of Hampton Roads, including pothole repair.

A 48-hour grace period between a pothole being reported and when TME crews have to inspect it protects them from having to pay many claims.

'Every claim is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If the pothole has already been reported you have a better chance of being reimbursed for your damages,' says VDOT spokeswoman Lauren Hansen.

Last Friday, several vehicles' tires were flattened on I-264 when crater-like potholes formed, forcing crews to shut down lanes and begin immediate repairs.

Hansen says VDOT has agreed to pay those claims because it was an emergency situation that developed on a stretch of interstate already identified by VDOT as a problem. In this specific case, VDOT is taking the blame, while all other claims are referred to TME.

In 2010, approximately 300 claims were filed with TME over potholes after snow fell on Jan. 30. Not one claim was approved.

In 2012, TME paid out $7,762 in claims, but most was for damage caused by sources other than potholes.

Drivers who want to report a pothole on the interstate or file a claim should call the VDOT Customer Service Center at 1-800-367-7623.

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