Ken Gross’ 1971 Chevelle was the latest victim of what he dubs “The Big Dip” on Highway 96 (128th Street) near McCollum Park in south Everett. The car hit one of the dips and damaged the drivetrain’s bellhousing. Black gouges marked the roadway.
It was a hefty bill to get the classic car fixed. So Gross decided to try and ask for help. He filed a tort claim with the state.
He was able to get $930.53, according to state records.
Perhaps the simplest explanation of a tort is “a wrong that someone suffers,” said Harold Goldes, a public records officer for the state Department of Enterprise Services. Maybe it’s not a crime. But it is an injustice. And damages can be sought.
When a state agency or employee is involved, that can result in a tort claim on a desk in Olympia.
“We get claims every day,” Goldes said.
The Department of Enterprise Service’s Office of Risk Management is the one that receives a tort claim, gives it a careful review, then gives it a category and starts the process of determining how to respond.
“There’s usually an effort by the state to not go to court,” Goldes said.
The state might make an offer. Most of the time that offer is accepted. If not, a claim could go to the state attorney general’s office.
Once assigned, most state agencies have staff to manage their own tort claims.
WSDOT receives about 830 claims each year with an average annual payout of $854,000, based on data from 2013 to 2017, said Allen, a spokesman for the agency. The claims typically stem from state construction or maintenance projects. Other common offenders are potholes, debris on the road, or chip seal work, when bits of rock fly up and ding a windshield.
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