14 January 2016
New Year, New Pothole Problems?
After a mild start to the new year, it looks very likely that many of us will see some ice and snow this winter before spring makes an appearance at the end of March.
Potholes have caused a problem on our roads throughout the last few winters – and can increase in number at this time of year, causing pain and misery to people who suffer an injury caused as a result of driving or cycling over a pothole.
To qualify as a pothole the depth of the hole must be at least 40mm deep. If not, then there may still be the possibility for you to claim.
Whose fault is it?
Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 imposes a statutory duty on a highway authority to maintain the highway.
Your local authority is responsible for the inspection and maintenance for roads. They are required to carry out regular inspections and, where necessary, complete repairs to potholes.
Sometimes, potholes are not inspected, nor are they repaired. If your local authority did not carry out inspections or repairs then they could be found negligent and you could be entitled to compensation for personal injury or damage to your vehicle.
However, the highway authority may have a defence under section 58 of the Highway Act 1980 if it can prove that it took such care – as was reasonably required in the circumstances – to ensure the highway was safe.
For further information regarding a local authority’s duty to repair potholes, see our earlier blog: When is a Pothole Not a Pothole?
Proving the cause of your injury or damage to car
If you suffer personal injury as a result of a pothole then you must visit your GP or hospital to seek medical advice as soon as possible. This will enable you to receive treatment and provide a contemporaneous record of what occurred following the incident.
For damage to your car, you would have to prove that it was caused by the pothole and that any repairs required were also caused as a result of this. You would need to obtain a quote for the cost of the repairs from your local garage.
Other useful evidence
If safe to do so, then take a photograph of the pothole. Ideally, you should be able to show the width and depth – you can use a ruler or tape measure to show the depth.
It’s also a good idea to take photographs of the surrounding area as this will help identify the exact location of the pothole. This is particularly important if there are a number of other potholes in close proximity, or if the pothole in question is located on a remote road.
Please also take photographs of your injuries and any damage to your vehicle as they can be used as evidence to support your claim.
Seeking the advice of an expert personal injury solicitor can be crucial in making sure any claim for compensation goes smoothly. Slater and Gordon are one of the UK’s largest personal injury law firms and have years of experience in helping people injured by potholes and guiding them to brighter outcomes.
Gurdeep Chayra is an associate solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Birmingham.
For a free consultation about claiming for an injury caused by a pothole – either as a driver, cyclist or pedestrian – call Slater and Gordon Lawyers 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.