State payouts for damaged property include unusual hazard

The saying goes, “You break it, you buy it.”

But when it comes to something the state is responsible for breaking, we all ending up paying.

In the last fiscal year, the state paid $197,057.21 to settle 535 claims for damages caused by state property or state workers, as well as pay for items that went missing at state facilities ($10,000 or less).

Potholes made up a significant chunk of claims, but there is another hazard on our state highways and byways that’s also costing a good size amount of your money.

While none of us want to see waist-high weeds of grass along our roadways, the damage weed whackers cause to cars adds up.

Heidi Kalopodes knows that first-hand.

“I was coming out of the Likelike tunnel town-bound headed toward Kalihi. I saw a bunch of people weed-eating right outside the tunnel, and a bunch of rocks flew, hit my car from the weed-eater,” she said. “It was a loud, crashing sound, and it was quite startling.”

Kalopodes says she immediately drove to the Kalihi police station to report the incident, and officers followed her back to the tunnel.

“The damage was done to the hood area. The rocks flew up, ricocheted off the hood, onto the windshield, and cracked the windshield,” she said.  “There were a lot of nicks and dings on the hood, but the one there on the hood scooping was the worst.”

Kalopodes filed a claim with her insurance company. She paid the deductible up front, and was eventually reimbursed by the state.

“It took a while, in total about four months before I got my check,” she said, “but that was after calling them about three or four times to remind them about it.”

Damage to Kalopodes’ car cost taxpayers $2,405.

It was just one of 24 incidents involving damage from weed whackers that ending up costing state taxpayers $21,871 in the last fiscal year, with payouts ranging from $123 to $3,134.

Damage from potholes was even more costly at $23,258 to settle 45 claims.

Most of the claims ranged from $300-$500, with the highest being a payout being $3,892, all because of a pothole.

We also noticed most pothole damage occurred on the Likelike and Pali highways as well as the H-1 Freeway.

A Department of Transportation spokesman says the state is in the process of repaving Likelike Highway, and Pali Highway is next, although there’s no date set for work to begin.

Click here for more information on how to file a claim against the state for property damage or bodily injury.

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