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DOT damage collections to state property skyrocket
Destruction of signs, guardrails costs Georgia around $10M
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The Georgia Department of Transportation has seen its recovery from claims to damaged state property nearly quadruple in the first year it has outsourced the work.

Through August, Oklahoma-based Claims Management Resources Inc. recovered nearly $3.7 million in damages in 2,418 claims statewide — nearly $600,000 in 451 claims in District 1, or Northeast Georgia counties including Hall, according to DOT data.

That’s compared to DOT efforts the year before that resulted in $1 million statewide and $126,000 in District 1.

“CMR specializes in recovering those costs,” Deputy Commissioner Todd Long said. “The contract allows DOT staff to focus on their primary job functions of keeping our state routes and interstates operating well instead of chasing paperwork.”

The money will be funnel back into transportation projects, Long said.

Last year, the DOT hired CMR to act as the state’s agent in damages recovery negotiations with responsible parties and their insurance carriers.

Each year, some 12,000 vehicle crashes on Georgia highways damage or destroy state property, including signs and guardrails, officials have said.

Annual damages have been estimated to total as much as $10 million.

The DOT repairs and replaces those items but also seeks to recover costs from responsible parties. Collections historically have resulted in recovery of $1 million per year.

For its efforts, CMR also collects a 15.5 percent fee from the responsible party. The $3.7 million figure is the net amount for the state, or after the fee was deducted, DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said.

Overall, the work doesn’t cost taxpayers, officials have said.

“The company is doing this same work for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (and) results in that state have been very positive,” DOT Chief Engineer Russell McMurry has said.

The contract with CMR lasts three years. CMR was founded as Recovery Specialists in May 1988 to work with utility companies on damage claim recovery, according to its website.

The company “hires licensed adjusters rather than debt collectors to negotiate payments on files,” according to CMR.

“Experience indicates licensed adjusters are significantly more effective and professional in negotiating claims with responsible parties.”

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