We’ve all unexpectedly driven through a pothole and heard the dreaded thud underneath the car. The first question that goes through your mind is whether or not your car is damaged – which is understandable considering the cost of repairs – and then comes the frustration that the council still hasn’t done anything about the huge holes that are appearing on Britain’s roads.
Data collected in 2013 suggests that there are over 295 square miles of potholes on Britain’s roads. The combination of two consecutive icy winters and the floods of this last winter have left Britain’s roads in dire need of repair.
The stats show that one in ten mechanical vehicle failures – axle, tyre, wheel and suspension damage being most common – on UK roads cost drivers around £730 million every year. This 159% rise over the last three years has led to over £30 million of compensation claims being made every year, even though the majority of potholes cost councils as little as £50 to repair.
Potholes.co.uk was set up several years ago as a group that aimed to address the UK’s pothole problem. A spokesman from their site said:
‘It’s very difficult for the average motorist, because there’s so little information on potholes that’s readily available to them’.
So what should you do if you hit a pothole?
As soon as it’s safe you should take pictures of the pothole as well as taking its measurements. You should also take pictures of the damage to your car.
Contact whoever’s responsible
If you’re on a motorway or A-road then it’s likely to be the Highways Agency, for any other road it is usually the local council.
Make a case
Once you’ve received your quote to repair the damage you can make a complaint. You letter should include a detail of the accident, where and when it happened and your photographs. You should also include a copy of the receipt of the cost of the repairs.
Councils are likely to argue the fact that they’re not liable under Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, where it says that a council cannot be held liable if road problems are dealt with quickly.
You however, have the right to request information – under the Freedom of Information Act – about when the road was last inspected.
Sometimes the council will offer to reimburse you for the amount of your repairs. However, if they don’t…
If you think that you should have won some kind of compensation for your claim because the council are liable then it’s a good idea to contact a solicitor who may take on your case. Although some legal services can be expensive there are no win no fee solicitors out there which means that you won’t pay any fees unless you win your case. Although this route is probably not worthwhile if you’re repair bill was only small, if your claim is considerable then it’s definitely worth it.