Any damage less than $5,000 to a vehicle is eligible for a pothole damage claim payable through the state of California's Department of Transportation. This program is designed to recoup drivers without suing the state for damages (an effort that is very difficult to succeed in). Claims for more than $5,000 must go to the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board for a remedy. Any claims for medical expenses are sent to the board as well. To initiate the claim, you must get a form from the state of California.
I have a slightly bent rim I have to keep on the rear (I had to replace 2 front tires way too quickly before I figured out what it was). I couldn't find a place that would fix a bent rim in Sac. I'm on my second set of "winglets" but I haven't gotten around to buying a new rim. Also, I had DOT pay me for a windshield a few years ago. It was for piles of gravel on 99S. It was pretty easy actually, and they paid within @ 2 months.
They must have changed ... When I had a bent wheel in Sunnyvale, I called and was told that in order to win they had to know there was a pothole for a certain amount of time. If it had not been reported previously you lost.