Dodging pothole lawsuits

The Ombudsman’s office yesterday tabled proposals for municipal and regional authorities to settle out of court with the hundreds of motorists who, every year, seek compensation for damage caused to their vehicles as a result of poor road maintenance. In a special report, Ombudsman Giorgos Kaminis said his office receives dozens of complaints each year from motorists hoping for an out-of-court deal in such cases. However, in nearly all instances, the local authorities involved refused to pay up. As a result, Kaminis said, up to 400 lawsuits are tabled at the Athens administrative court of first instance alone, on an annual basis. «This adds to the court workload, while the court costs are often higher than the compensation being sought,» Kaminis said. He proposed a simple process whereby motorists send a report to the local authorities, which in turn have to rule on the compensation bid within a set deadline. If the damages are approved, then motorists forfeit any right to litigation.