If you suffer an injury or damage to property as a consequence of hitting a pothole while riding a bike, you could be entitled to compensation.
The personal injury specialists at Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help you to make a claim against highway authority or local council departments if they were at least partially responsible for what happened.
The responsibility of councils and highway authorities
Some cycling accidents are caused by riders’ own mistakes or errors in judgement, while others are due to the behaviour of another road user. Some are considered to be unavoidable.
However, there’s another class of cycling accident for which local authorities or highway authorities can be held responsible. These cases commonly involve potholes, which can affect vulnerable two-wheeled road users such as cyclists more than drivers of cars and other vehicles. If a cyclist rides over a pothole, it can cause them to lose balance, fall off or fall into the path of another vehicle - all of which can result in serious injury and damage to the bike or other property.
Councils and highway authorities can also be held responsible for spillages that aren’t cleaned up or marked with safety signage in a timely manner, obstacles in the road and uneven, damaged or poorly resurfaced roads.
Pothole claims for compensation
In order to establish that a highway authority was responsible for an accident, (in London, the relevant London borough council) it’s necessary to prove:
- That your cycling accident was caused as a consequence of losing control of your bicycle due to hitting the pothole.
- That the pothole was of sufficient gravity to have constituted a breach of Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980. Section 41 states that the highways authority has a duty to maintain the highway, keeping up a standard of maintenance in line with the character of the highway and the kind and level of traffic that is expected to use it.
Statutory defence by highways authorities
Highways authorities will almost always seek to avoid liability by relying upon their statutory defence under Section 58 of the Highways Act. They’re able to rely on a Section 58 defence if they can demonstrate that they had in place an adequate system of inspection and maintenance. The burden of proving an adequate inspection regime rests with the highway authority.
Practical steps of proving a cycling accident claim
While it can be difficult to think clearly immediately after a sudden accident, taking certain steps could help to improve your chances of success in a pothole-related compensation claim. Provided it’s safe to do so, our cycling injury solicitors recommend following these practical steps:
- Make a note of exactly where the accident happened, the date and the time. If you are able, you may also want to gather statements from nearby witnesses if any are available and willing to provide evidence in your case.
- Get several close-up photographs of the pothole. The photographs should demonstrate the dimensions of the defect with a ruler or an everyday object. The images should also show the wider area around the pothole so that it’s possible to identify where it is.
- It may be possible to defeat any statutory defence raised by the highway authority if previous complaints had been made to the local council. It's worthwhile checking with nearby residents or shopkeepers if they were aware of any complaints having been made about the pothole. Successfully proving that the council failed to take action on a pothole problem that’d been reported several times could strengthen your claim of negligence.
- Check the Cycling UK's Fill That Hole website to see if there’ve been any previous complaints about the pothole.
For the best chance of success in proving negligence or liability when making a claim against highway authority or council departments, it’s essential to have a legal expert and cycling claims specialist on your side. Call our personal injury team to find out more. Our freephone number 0800 916 9046 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help
If you’ve had a cycling accident and believe that someone else’s negligence was fully or partly to blame, Slater and Gordon’s personal injury team can help you to make a claim against the relevant highway authority or local council department.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers handle more cycle accident injury claims than most other law firms in the UK as we represent members of the public and members of Cycling UK, the national cycling charity.
As one of the UK's largest and best-known consumer law firms with offices nationwide, we can provide immediate legal representation and rehabilitation support anywhere in the UK. This means that wherever you live, we can help.
No Win, No Fee cycling injury claims
98% of Slater and Gordon personal injury claims are funded through a No Win, No Fee agreement, which is also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement.
Handling your compensation claim against a highway authority or council on a No win, No Fee basis means there’s no financial risk to you. You can start your claim in full confidence. After all, no one should be left out of pocket for pursuing justice.
Many of our solicitors at Slater and Gordon are members of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Pan European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers (PEOPIL).