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Personal Injury Solicitor Tristan Hallam on Cycling Accident Compensation Claims and pothole chaos

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

I feel that I have to write to comment on the position that all road users face as to the standard of roads.

A small piece in The Guardian on the 22nd March told how the Chief of the AA was in a garage taking his young son to a football match where one side of his car collapsed, the left or nearside front spring having broken, the mechanic commenting that this is likely to have been due to wear and tear from potholes.

The point of the matter is that the state of our roads appears to have deteriorated significantly over the course of the last few months. This is no doubt due to the weather. It is also no doubt due to the financial constraints that Councils have upon them so that any additional money required, to carry out further repairs that were perhaps not expected, is simply not forthcoming.

As a cyclist in Central London, commuting most days by bicycle (as I have indicated in previous blogs), this is extremely apparent. We do well as cyclists and indeed motorcyclists I am sure feel the same, not to come unstuck when trying to negotiate our way around potholes and at the same time look out for other road users who might and in most cases inadvertently, be making a beeline towards us.

An efficient transport system is vital for the economy. It is also a requirement of the Highways Act, for a local authority to maintain the highway to an appropriate standard. Establishing a breach however, is far from easy although it is not for a local authority to rely upon the lack of funds when defending such a claim and very much for the Claimant to establish that complaints have been made about the potholes and the local authority have failed to act reasonably and respond and have failed to act in accordance with their agreed procedure on inspection.

The problem is however that many potholes almost appear ‘overnight’. Obtaining witness evidence that confirms the pothole had been present for some time is difficult especially where the Courts are looking for witnesses to say why they remember it being in the road some 12 months earlier.

A witness clearly remembering the presence of the pothole because they tripped over it whilst crossing the road, taking a cake to a birthday party and who clearly recalls the accident as a result would be very helpful indeed.

I anticipate therefore that this is a hazard which is likely to remain with us for some time.

By Tristan Hallam

Read more about Cycling Accident Compensation Claims.