How to report a pothole and claim compensation

UK Home Improvement

How to Report a Pothole and Claim Compensation

Potholes are an unfortunate menace on the roads, causing damage to vehicles and posing risks to both pedestrians and road safety. However, there is a silver lining – you have the right to report potholes and, under certain circumstances, claim compensation for your suffering.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of reporting a pothole and seeking compensation in the UK.

What Constitutes a Pothole?

Potholes are holes in the road, but they do vary both in size and shape. They are generally caused by water entering the ground under the road surface, which then expands and contracts.

For the purposes of claiming compensation, the pothole needs to be deeper than one inch or 25mm.

Reporting a Pothole

The first step in addressing the issue of a pothole is to report it to the relevant authorities. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Identify the exact location of the pothole. Note down nearby landmarks or street names to help authorities locate it precisely.
  2. Contact your local council. You can typically find contact information on their website or by calling the council’s customer service hotline.
  3. Report the pothole, providing as much detail as possible about its size, depth, and any damage it has caused to your vehicle or others.
  4. Some councils have dedicated online reporting systems where you can submit photos and descriptions of the pothole. Use these if available.

Several apps and websites are now also available for reporting potholes, such as FixMyStreet and the Fill That Hole app by Cycling UK. These platforms often make it easier to report and track the progress of your complaint.

What Are The Extent of Pot Hole-Related Accidents?

Potholes on roads can pose various dangers to both vehicles and pedestrians, leading to accidents and injuries. If the local council ignores the issue, it can cause a whole range of potential issues and damage, all because the pothole had been left unrepaired

Vehicle Damage

Potholes can cause significant damage to vehicles. Some common types of damage include:

  • Tire Damage: Potholes can puncture or damage tires. This can lead to blowouts, loss of control, and accidents.
  • Wheel and Suspension Damage: The impact of hitting a pothole can damage wheels, rims, and suspension systems, affecting a vehicle’s handling and stability.
  • Alignment Issues: Repeated encounters with potholes can throw a vehicle’s wheels out of alignment, causing it to pull to one side and reducing control.

Accidents and Collisions

  • Loss of Control: Hitting a deep pothole at speed can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle, potentially resulting in accidents and collisions with other vehicles or objects.
  • Sudden Braking: Drivers may slam on their brakes when they encounter a pothole unexpectedly, which can lead to rear-end collisions if the following vehicle can’t stop in time.

Pedestrian Hazards

  • Tripping and Falling: Pedestrians can trip and fall when they step into a pothole, especially if it’s hidden by water, debris, or poor lighting. This can result in injuries such as sprains, fractures, or head injuries.
  • Uneven Surfaces: Potholes can create uneven walking surfaces, making it challenging for pedestrians, including those with mobility issues or disabilities, to navigate safely.

Cycling Accidents

  • Loss of Control: Cyclists can lose control of their bicycles when they encounter potholes, leading to accidents and injuries.
  • Damage to Bicycles: Potholes can cause significant damage to bicycle wheels, frames, and other components.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle riders are particularly vulnerable to potholes: hitting a pothole can cause loss of control, leading to accidents with serious injuries or fatalities.

Claiming Compensation for a Pothole Incident

To initiate a claim you will need to:

Identify the Responsible Party

First of all, you will need to determine who is responsible for the incident that resulted in your need for compensation. In most situations, this will be the local authority in which the road is located.

Gather Evidence

Collect all relevant evidence to support your claim. This may include photographs, videos, documents, receipts, witness statements, and any other documentation that can help establish your case. 

It is particularly important to show the depth of the pothole using a ruler or tape measure and to take photos of this from several different angles. Do ensure that you include local landmarks within the photos so that there is evidence of where the pothole is located.

Notify the Responsible Party

Contact the responsible party or their insurance company to inform them of your intention to file a compensation claim. Be sure to maintain clear and accurate records of all communication.

Consult with a Legal Professional

Depending on the complexity of your claim and the potential resistance from the responsible party or their insurer, it may be wise to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in the relevant area of law, such as personal injury or property damage.

While it is possible for you to submit the claim without legal representation, there is a far greater chance of a successful outcome when using the services of a qualified and experienced legal team

Could the Claim Be Rejected?

The Highways Act in the UK does allow local councils some leeway when it comes to resolving issues with potholes

For this to happen, they would need to demonstrate that:

  1. There was a maintenance programme in place
  2. They took reasonable steps to ensure the safety of those using the roads
  3. The pothole appeared recently and was not there when they last maintained the area
  4. They have already put steps in place to resolve the issue.

Our Summary

The process of claiming compensation can be complex and often requires careful consideration, documentation, and, more often than not, legal assistance. Whether you’re seeking compensation for personal injury, property damage, or other losses following a pothole incident, it’s essential to follow the appropriate steps, gather evidence, and engage with the responsible party or their insurer in a proactive and informed manner.

While many claims can be resolved through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods, some may require litigation in court to achieve a fair outcome. Timeliness and adherence to legal deadlines are crucial throughout this process.

Remember that the specific steps and requirements for claiming compensation can vary depending on the nature of the claim and where you live. This means that seeking legal advice or consulting with relevant authorities can help ensure that you navigate the process effectively and maximize your chances of obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled.


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