Can I Claim for Pothole Damage from the Council?

Accidents or damage caused by potholes has become a regular occurrence throughout the UK. These potholes can be hazardous, especially in extreme weather conditions. To avoid accidents or damage, always drive safely, paying close attention to the road ahead to identify any potholes or damaged areas.

Getting compensation for a claim against damage or injury from a pothole is not the most straightforward task. In some cases, it is possible to make a claim, and this article will help you determine your eligibility. We cover details on all the necessary information you need to report potholes and how to find out whether you can claim or not.

What causes potholes?

Various factors contribute to the development of potholes, with the weather being the primary cause in the UK. During heavy rainfalls, potholes begin to expand, making it difficult to maintain the road and repair the potholes. Potholes are caused by rain seeping into existing cracks in the road caused by normal wear and tear.

Each year, the council repairs more than 2 million potholes. Cold weather and rain often cause these potholes to reappear. When it gets colder, the water inside the cracks starts to expand when frozen, which causes the roads to break down into potholes due to moving traffic. Heavy trucks, lorries and other vehicles transporting materials can also damage the road surface.

Who is responsible for potholes?

In most cases, local authorities are responsible for maintaining roads and preventing newly formed potholes from expanding rapidly. Local authorities receive a share of a £500 million budget each year to repair potholes. If you notice an increase in potholes and do not see any repairs or improvements, you should contact your local council. In fact, all potholes should be reported so that they can be repaired as soon as possible.

If a pothole has damaged your car, your local authority or one of the four national authorities could be liable for the damage. The four national authorities include Traffic Wales, Transport Scotland, Department for Infrastructure, and Highways England.

What damage can potholes do to your car?

Potholes don’t only cause vehicle damage. They could lead to car accidents, resulting in significant injuries and even fatal outcomes. Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where it is impossible to avoid a pothole due to oncoming traffic or other problems. Hitting the pothole could cause severe damage to your tyres, suspension, body panels, and exhaust system. Not to mention personal injuries such as whiplash, back injuries and other damage to you or your passengers.

Below are some of the most common types of car damage that potholes can cause:

Tyre and wheel damage – Your tyres are most likely to get damaged if you hit a pothole at a relatively high speed. Issues that may arise with your tyre’s overall condition include tread separation, sidewall bulges, or punctures. Your tyres are among the most critical aspects of ensuring vehicle safety. If your tyres are not in good condition, they may blow while driving at higher speeds and cause an accident.

However, tyres are not the only way your wheels can get damaged by potholes. Rim scratches and cracks could also appear and cost even more than tyre repairs if the rim is fractured or cracked.

Suspension – Driving through a pothole could damage your car’s suspension by misaligning it. The sudden force of the impact could cause misalignment and potentially bend the suspension completely out of shape. If you drove through a pothole recently, you should pay attention to your alignment. If you feel your car swerving to one side or your steering wheel is shaking, you should get your vehicle checked immediately and consider seeking compensation.

Body Panels – If your car is a low rider, driving through a pothole could severely damage body panels such as bumpers and side skirts.

Exhaust – Your exhaust is another low-hanging part of the car that could easily be damaged by hitting a pothole. Exhaust repairs are not cheap and should be taken up with your council if it was not your fault.

The best way to see whether your car has suffered damage by driving through a pothole is to take it for an inspection at your local car garage.

How to claim for pothole damage to my car?

Your local council should have a system for community members to contact them about any complaints. This is usually done through a dedicated email address or online portal. Your local council could be liable for damage to your vehicle if they have received a report of defective roads or potholes and failed to repair it within a reasonable timeframe. If the council was unaware of the pothole and no one had reported it, they are less likely to be held responsible for any damage.

The depth of a pothole can significantly impact the validity of your claim for damages, as councils typically have minimum depth requirements for considering a pothole hazardous. For example, some local authorities may require a pothole to be at least 40mm deep for a claim to be valid. It is essential to consult your local council’s guidelines to understand the specific depth criteria in your area and determine whether the pothole in question meets these requirements.

That’s why it’s essential to report any potholes you encounter on the roads as soon as possible. You can also claim damages caused by potholes while riding a bike, motorcycle or any other form of transport. You should follow a couple of guidelines listed below for claiming against the council for damages caused by a pothole to any type of vehicle.

What evidence will I need to claim for pothole damage?

Pictures of the pothole, proof of its dimensions, and photos of the damage it caused to your vehicle are essential if you want to make a successful claim. You can always return to the scene later with a measuring tape to ensure that you have accurate details. In an emergency, you can use an everyday item like a lighter or coin to show the pothole size in comparison.

Standard procedures with any damage claim include providing details like the date and time your vehicle was damaged. Additionally, gather as much information as possible from any witnesses present at the scene.

Can I appeal if the council rejects my claim for pothole damage?

Although it is possible to claim damage caused by a pothole, it can be challenging. That said, if the damage caused by the pothole is significant and expensive to repair, you’d want to fight for what is rightly owed to you.

To begin with, you should establish why the council did not accept your claim. Potholes need to be of specific dimensions to be classified as a pothole, and you will have to prove that the pothole was what caused the damage. If the pothole is not classified as such, you will have problems getting any sort of compensation from the council.

However, if you believe the council’s rejection was unjust, you can appeal their decision. You may want to seek legal advice or consult with a solicitor who specialises in such cases. They can help you gather additional evidence, strengthen your case, and guide you through the appeal process.

Appealing a rejected claim can be time-consuming and may incur additional costs, so weighing the potential benefits against the costs and effort involved is essential. If the damage to your vehicle was relatively minor, it might not be worth pursuing an appeal. However, pursuing compensation may be worthwhile if you believe your case is strong and the damages are substantial.

Keep in mind that there is usually a specific timeframe within which you must appeal a rejected claim, often within three months of receiving the rejection notice. However, this may vary depending on your local council’s guidelines, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with the relevant deadlines and submit your appeal promptly to ensure that your case remains eligible for reconsideration.

Can I claim for personal injury caused by a pothole?

If you or your child sustained injuries because of a pothole accident, you might be eligible for personal injury compensation if the council owns the road. Pothole damage to vehicles is on the rise throughout the UK.

Due to the increase in claims, the requirements for claims are stringent. To be eligible, you will need to prove that the pothole is indeed classified as such and that it was the sole contributor to the injuries.

To make a personal injury claim, you should follow similar steps as you would for a pothole damage claim. Collect evidence, including photographs of the pothole, measurements, and details of the accident. Gather information from any witnesses and seek medical attention to document the injuries sustained.

Consult a personal injury solicitor who can assess your case and help you navigate the claims process. They will guide you through gathering the necessary evidence, submitting your claim, and negotiating with the council or their insurers. If necessary, your solicitor can also represent you in court if your claim goes to trial. You can find out more on our guide to pothole accident claims.

In conclusion, claiming for pothole damage or personal injury caused by a pothole can be challenging. However, if you have a strong case and are willing to put in the effort, you may be able to secure compensation for the damages you have suffered. Always report potholes to your local council to help prevent further accidents and damage to vehicles in your community.

Who Is Responsible for Gritting Roads and Pavements?

During the icy winter seasons, UK roads can become incredibly slippery and dangerous and should always be used cautiously. Gritting is vital for your safety as a road user to prevent nasty crashes or tumbles on slippery roads and pavements.

Gritters are active every year to prevent dangerous driving conditions. However, you should always drive cautiously during winter as ice and snow can quickly reform on roads even after they have been gritted.

If you have been involved in an accident caused by ice or snow on an ungritted road or pavement, you could potentially qualify for a personal injury compensation claim.

It can get confusing to stay on top of things – there are a number of laws that govern the responsibilities of authorities and road gritting. It will help to know who is responsible for the specific road you are concerned with. It is also important to note that the highway authority and council are not responsible for all the roads and pavements in the UK.

In this guide, you will learn more about who is responsible for which roads and pavements and how to claim compensation for any injuries caused by the negligence of the council or other authorities who fail to grit roads and pavements.

Who is responsible for gritting roads?

You may see certain roads being gritted more actively than others; naturally, the amount of traffic and where the road is located will play a factor in the priority. With that in mind, less prominent roads are primarily the responsibility of local authorities, although members of the public can help clear snow and ice from pavements when necessary.

The three main bodies responsible for gritting the roads are National Highways (formerly Highways England), county councils, and private owners of businesses. Local UK councils are responsible for around 225,000 miles of road, so it is impossible for all of them to be gritted and ice-free. Gritting all roads would cost the council hundreds of millions of pounds.

The responsibility for gritting different types of roads is explained below:

As we’ve illustrated, the relevant authorities should conduct the gritting of high-traffic roads. If you have been involved in an accident on a high priority, ungritted road, you should contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance, as you could be entitled to compensation.

You can find out which roads your local council will grit by using the website.

Who is responsible for gritting pavements?

Pavement gritting should be a priority depending on the specific location and conditions, as it poses a potential risk for pedestrians to slip and suffer significant injuries. The responsibility for gritting pavements on public roads typically falls on the relevant local authorities. However, you can see many public pavements gritted by private owners, especially business owners, for the protection of their workers, customers and the public in general.

Sometimes, local authorities will provide a grit bin for gritting roads and pavements near a school. With an eye on safety for both pedestrians and drivers, sub-contractors will also try to spread grit to the pavement when gritting a local or minor road.

When pavements are considered part of highways, they fall under the responsibility of councils. Councils are allowed to decide for themselves whether there are other routes that could be taken instead of gritting the pavement or whether the pavement gets used enough to merit gritting.

Who is responsible for gritting car parks?

Council car parks are gritted by the council. However, any business’ car park gritting and maintenance naturally fall under the responsibility of the business or landowner.

All businesses and landowners should consider gritting in icy conditions, as it could be a potential hazard to anyone accessing the premises. Failing to keep their premises safe could make them liable for a personal injury claim if somebody is injured due to a slip on ice.

When do roads and pavements need to be gritted?

Roads and pavements need to be gritted by the relevant local authorities, who have a duty of care towards the public. UK winters are often icy, and what better way to lose your footing than on a slippery surface. Whether it is a public area or a private property, landowners and local authorities must respect their duty of care towards the public by ensuring proper maintenance and gritting.

Businesses and local authorities need to keep a keen eye on the weather and should consider creating a winter risk assessment. This will illustrate when to grit roads and how often.

Can the council be liable for an accident if they don’t grit the roads?

If you have been injured in an accident due to an ungritted, icy, or snowy road, you may be eligible to claim compensation. The highway authority and council could be held liable if they are unable to prove that the road was recently gritted.

The determination of liability in such cases would likely depend on various factors, including the specific circumstances of the accident, the efforts made by the council to address the issue, and whether the council acted reasonably under the circumstances.

That said, Section 41(1A) of the Highways Act 1980 clearly states that a highway authority is under a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice. This means that you, as a highway user, have the right to claim compensation, especially when you are in an accident where the highway authority is not maintaining roads in winter conditions. Section 150 expands on this by laying responsibility on the highway authority to clear snow from the highway if it is causing an obstruction.

How to claim for an accident caused by ice or snow?

For the best chances of a successful claim against the council or highway authority, you will need evidence that the roads were not maintained up to standard. Proving that an ungritted road was the reason behind your accident will bolster your case, and your personal injury solicitor can assist you when assessing your case.

Gather as much evidence as possible, and consider getting statements from eyewitnesses. Photos of the road and the accident scene are also vital to prove negligence on the part of the council.

It is also worth mentioning that if a pavement or road was cleared and you got injured by falling or slipping on the surface, ”common sense” and ”benefit of the doubt” will be considered by the authorities. There is no law against clearing pavements or public spaces.

To initiate a claim, contact a personal injury solicitor specialising in such cases. They can help you determine the strength of your claim, gather evidence, and negotiate with the council or highway authority on your behalf. In most instances, your solicitor may be able to reach a settlement without going to court. However, if necessary, they will represent you in court proceedings.

Keep in mind that there is a time limit for making personal injury claims. Generally, you have three years from the date of the accident to make a claim. It is advisable to consult a solicitor as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline.

In conclusion, the responsibility for gritting roads and pavements in the UK is shared between different authorities and landowners. National Highways is responsible for major roads, while local councils are responsible for minor and local roads, as well as some pavements. Private landowners and businesses are responsible for gritting their own premises, including car parks.

If you have been injured in an accident due to an ungritted road or pavement, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Consult a personal injury solicitor to help you assess your case and gather evidence to support your claim.

To discuss your case with a friendly legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation. Alternatively, enter your details into our online claim form, and an adviser will call you back.