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Paul Kitson on Cycling Accident Compensation Claims due to Potholes

On this morning’s BBC Breakfast there was another feature on potholes. The report highlighted that councils are struggling to keep on top of road maintenance and that the Government cut backs are a false economy. One commentator said that what was needed on the UK's road was major surgery not first aid. On the sofa a motoring journalist echoed these points. She was asked by Sian Williams (sadly her last day on BBC Breakfast) what motorists can do to claim the cost of their vehicle repairs. The response was too simplistic and implied that Highway Authorities are strictly liable to meet the cost of any damage caused by a pothole if they are simply provided with evidence that the damage was caused by a particular pothole.There are 3 hurdles to overcome when submitting claim to a Highway Authority for injuries or losses caused by a pothole:
1. The Claimant must prove that the pothole was the cause of the damage
2. The pothole must be an "actionable defect" - i.e. it is of sufficient size to be regarded as a hazard to ordinary road users.
3. The Highway Authority may have a "statutory defence" if they can prove that they had in place a reasonable system of maintenance and that there had not been any reports about the hazard.It was unfortunate that the news item focused on the problems that motorists face when there vehicles are damaged by potholes. Of far greater concern is the risk of death or injury of vulnerable road users, particularly cyclists. As both a cyclist and a cycle accident lawyer I can confirm that potholes can be a lethal hazard and that Cycling Accident Compensation Claims against Highway Authorities are very difficult to pursue.

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