Potholes may be a somewhat regular occurrence on public roads and pavements throughout the country, but they can be hazardous and cause accidents as well as significant injuries and damage to vehicles. For this reason, highway agencies are obliged to ensure that roads are maintained adequately and potholes are quickly repaired. But with an increasing population and the number of vehicles on the roads at an all-time high, local councils are often taking too long to make these repairs, leaving roads, pavements and footpaths in dangerous conditions.
If you or your child have suffered an injury due to a pothole on council owned property, you may have a valid claim for personal injury compensation. An injury solicitor will have vast experience in helping people make accident claims against local authorities throughout the UK, and would be happy to discuss your accident during a free case assessment. This service is provided without any obligation to proceed further, and in most cases can be completed with a brief telephone conversation. If you would like to find out more, simply enter your details into the contact form above, and an experienced legal adviser will be in contact as soon as possible.
Compensation Claims for Accidents Caused by Potholes
The following guide explains how a claim can be made following an accident that caused injury or damage because of a pothole on a road, pavement or other area owned by the council. The guide considers how the law defines liability, the processes involved in making a claim and how much compensation is likely to be awarded following a successful pothole accident claim.
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The Law Regarding Potholes
The law relating to potholes and liability for road maintenance is predominantly set out in Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980. The Act outlines the legal responsibilities and duty of care of road owners, which is normally highway agencies and local councils, for ensuring that roads are safe and passable, so as to avoid causing injury to those that use these areas.
If an accident occurs and an injury or damage is sustained because of inadequate road maintenance or breaches in safety responsibilities, a claim can be brought against the highway agency as they will be considered liable for any suffering. The act details that the road owner should repair damages swiftly and that if the fault cannot be immediately addressed, adequate warning signs should be put in place to ensure that drivers are aware of risks.
If the council or highway agency are able to demonstrate that they took adequate care and that they had not breached their duty, a claim may not be valid. It is therefore important that claimants obtain as much evidence as possible relating to their accident, including photographic evidence of the state of the road and contact details of anybody that witnessed the trip or fall.
As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words, which is why good photographic evidence can be so important to these type of accident claims. Having photos of the pothole that caused you to trip and fall over will help to highlight the poor state of the surface, and will provide a permanent record should the pothole be repaired by the council. Placing a ruler, tape measure or identifiable object, such as a coin, into the pothole when taking the photos will help to demonstrate the depth of the hole. This will be an important factor when assessing your ability to proceed with a claim for compensation.
Can a claim be made against the owner of a private road?
If a pothole accident occurred when a driver or pedestrian was on private land, a claim may potentially be made against the landowner. If you have found yourself in this particular situation, an experienced personal injury solicitor will be happy to provide you with free legal advice to assess your eligibility to pursue a compensation claim against the landowner in question.
How can a claim be made?
The claimant and their solicitor must prove that the defendant was liable for the accident and that they breached their duty of care to ensure that the road was safe and usable. In order to build a strong claim, the claimant will be required to provide as much evidence as possible, which could include the following:
- Photographic evidence of the road, the pothole and surrounding area. The photograph should clearly demonstrate the size, location and depth of the pothole. To do this, it is a good idea to place a ruler or a recognisable item (such as a coin) into the pothole when taking the photo. This will help to clearly show the depth and size of the pothole that caused your accident.
- Witness statements from any person who saw the accident take place or the immediate aftermath.
- Police reports if they were notified about the accident.
- Medical reports relating to the injuries sustained, including treatment records and receipts for any medication or treatment purchased
- Estimates relating to the costs for any vehicle repairs that are required.
- Where possible, CCTV footage from any properties surrounding the area can be highly valuable in supporting a claim. Be aware that the majority of CCTV records will be deleted after 28 days and so it is essential to secure footage promptly after your accident. You have a legal right to obtain this footage, so if your accident has been captured on CCTV, your solicitor will be able to request a copy from the owner.
Don’t worry if you are unsure if you have enough evidence to support your claim. Solicitors have a vast amount of experience in helping people claim for personal injuries caused by potholes and other road and pavement accidents, so will be able to assess your case during a completely free consultation.
How much compensation will be awarded following a pothole accident claim?
There are a number of factors that will influence the amount of compensation that is awarded following a pothole accident, and the personal injury compensation guidelines offer guidance on the likely settlements that will be awarded.
The following factors will be considered when an appropriate settlement figure is calculated:
- The severity of the injuries sustained and the future implications they may have for the victim
- The cost of any treatment, travel for medical appointments and future expected expenses.
- The cost to repair damage caused to a vehicle.
- Any loss of earnings suffered by the victim due to having to have time off work
- Any emotional suffering that has been inflicted upon the claimant because of the accident
Will my solicitor provide a No Win No Fee service?
Absolutely. Your solicitor will provide their expert services on a 100% no win no fee basis. This means that you are protected against the financial risk that is normally associated with making an accident claim. If a solicitor takes on your case and is unsuccessful in winning your claim, you won’t pay any of the costs incurred. You only pay a fee if the solicitor is successful, and this is a pre-agreed percentage of the compensation you are awarded (up to a maximum of 25%).
If you have had an accident that wasn’t your fault and would like to find out what your options are, contact a solicitor today. Simply enter your name and phone number into the contact form below or call free on 0800 678 1410. A friendly legal adviser will call you back asap to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have.