For various reasons, many authorities are chasing their tales when it comes to monitoring our roads and repairing defects such as potholes. While many potholes aren’t significant, others can be extremely dangerous if left unrepaired. As well as vehicle damage, potholes can pose a risk of injury to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. If you have been injured by a pothole, you could seek compensation for your suffering if the council, local authority or a business was to blame.
If you’re interested in starting a pothole accident claim, our team can help. We’ll review your options with you during a free initial consultation. Your advisor will offer legal advice and could connect you with a personal injury solicitor from our panel if your claim appears to be valid.
To speak to us about a pothole accident claim today, please contact our team on 0800 652 1345. To learn more about the claims process before getting in touch, please read on.
What are potholes?
In general terms, potholes are holes, hollows or depressions in the surface of the road or path. They usually begin life as small cracks that expand to be anywhere from a few inches wide to several feet. The tiny cracks can be turned into potholes by the weight of vehicles passing over them or due to general wear and tear. For that reason, local authorities and businesses need to monitor any road defects to check that they are not getting bigger over time.
Who is responsible for pothole maintenance and repairs?
According to section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, any authority responsible for a public highway has a duty to maintain the road so that it is as safe as possible. In most cases, those responsible for public highways are local authorities, National Highways, utility companies or private road owners.
The duty of care concerning potholes and road safety is made up of two parts:
- The responsible party should inspect all roads on a regular basis.
- There must be a good programme of repair in place to fix any dangerous road defects in a timely fashion.
Pothole inspections should be more frequent on busier roads and paths such as a ring road or the high street when compared with less busy residential areas.
Can I claim compensation for personal injuries caused by a pothole accident?
One of our personal injury lawyers may agree to take on your pothole compensation claim if it appears that you have a decent chance of being compensated. To review whether that’s the case, they’ll assess whether:
- The authority responsible for the road/pavement failed to meet their obligations under the Highways Act 1980 i.e. they were negligent; and
- An accident occurred because of a pothole; and
- You sustained an injury or injuries during that accident.
You can improve the chances of winning your claim by providing proof to show that a) the pothole existed, b) how your accident happened and c) how you’ve suffered. As such, we’ll explain what proof you could provide to support your claim later on.
Examples of pothole-related accidents
The list below shows some of the types of accidents that could lead to pothole accident claims:
- Where a cyclist is thrown from their bike because a deep pothole filled with rainwater was difficult to see.
- If a pedestrian trips on a pavement pothole and injures themselves in the subsequent fall.
- Where an occupant of a car, van or lorry was injured after their vehicle was involved in an accident after hitting a pothole.
- If your child is injured after tripping on a pothole.
Common injuries caused by potholes
If it can be proven another party was responsible for an accident because of a pothole, you could be entitled to compensation. Some of the most common pothole compensation claims relate to:
If you have sustained injuries from an accident caused by a pothole and believe you should be compensated, please speak to our team about lodging a claim today.
How deep does a pothole need to be to claim compensation?
The general rule when making a pothole compensation claim is that the defect will need to be deeper than 25mm (1 inch). As such, if you do decide to claim, you should take photographs of the pothole from various angles and use a ruler or tape measure to prove its depth.
Legally, section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, could allow the defendant to defend the claim if they can show that:
- There was a sound inspection and maintenance programme in place.
- They took reasonable steps to try and make sure that vehicles and pedestrians were safe when using the highway.
- The pothole had only appeared recently and was not present at the last inspection.
- Steps had already been put in place to repair the pothole.
That means that even if your injury was caused by a defect that meets the minimum pothole claims requirements, you may be denied compensation for any injuries. However, before dismissing your chances, we would suggest you seek legal advice from one of our specialists about your options.
How much compensation for a pothole accident claim?
The idea of compensation awarded in pothole accident claims is to help you recover mentally, physically and financially. As such, if your claim is won, it could include compensation associated to:
- The physical pain, discomfort and suffering caused by your injuries.
- Any form of psychological harm.
- Loss of amenity i.e. if your normal activities or hobbies are affected by your injuries.
- Income losses.
- Medical costs such as private physiotherapy.
- Travel expenses.
- Replacement property costs i.e. to replace clothing damaged in the pothole accident.
- Care costs to cover the time a loved one spent helping you out while you were injured.
- Future loss of earnings.
- Mobility aids and home adaptations if they’ll help you deal with an ongoing disability.
It is important to consider all of the above before filing a pothole injury claim as you can only make a single successful claim for the same injury. If you decide to be represented by a solicitor from our panel, they’ll ensure all aspects of your suffering are considered before the claim is filed.
How do I prove how badly I’ve been injured?
General damages is the part of any compensation that covers your injuries. To prove the extent of your suffering, you’ll likely need a medical assessment. If that’s the case, during your claim, your solicitor will book an appointment with a medical expert for you.
In your meeting, your injuries will be examined and you’ll be asked questions about how they’ve affected you. Once the meeting has concluded, the medical expert will produce a report to explain your injuries and offer an opinion about your prognosis. The report will be filed with both parties involved in your claim.
Providing proof for a pothole compensation claim
Any type of pothole compensation claim will normally end up with the defendant’s insurers. As you’ll know if you’ve ever made an insurance claim, liability for the accident and your injuries will usually be denied from the outset. For that reason, it’s best to supply as much proof as possible to show what happened if you’re to receive a compensation payout. This could include:
- Photographs. As mentioned above, photos of the pothole could be useful especially if a ruler is used to help prove its size. Also, photographs of any visible injuries could be helpful.
- Dashcam footage. If you had a road traffic accident caused by a pothole, download a copy of any relevant dashcam footage to show how the accident happened.
- Medical evidence. Any injuries should be diagnosed by a medical professional to ensure that they are treated correctly. If you go on to claim compensation for a pothole accident, X-rays and your medical records could be obtained to prove the extent of any injuries.
- Witness statements. If anyone else saw your accident occur, your solicitor might ask for a statement about what happened. Also, local residents or businesses may be asked for a statement to confirm how long the pothole had been in situ.
- Financial records. To help recoup any expenses linked to your injuries, it’s a good idea to give your solicitor copies of your wage slips, bank statements and any relevant receipts.
- CCTV footage. If your accident was captured on a CCTV camera, any footage could be a massive help. For this reason, it may be worth speaking to any nearby shop or business owners.
As part of our free initial consultation, we’ll review any proof you’ve gathered already if you’d like us to.
Claiming pothole compensation for someone else
In some cases, the person injured in a pothole accident may not be able to claim compensation themselves. This could include a child injured by a pothole or an adult who has suffered life-changing injuries following a motorcycle accident.
In these cases, a responsible adult, a loved one or a friend could take action on the claimant’s behalf by becoming their litigation friend. If this is something you’d like to do, please call us for assistance. Once you’ve been approved, you’ll be able to make decisions about the claim and deal with solicitors on the claimant’s behalf to try and secure compensation for them.
Pothole injury claim time limits
As you might expect, there is a time limit that applies to all pothole injury claims. Generally, you’ll have 3 years to claim from the date the accident occurred. However, if the claim is on behalf of a child, the time limit won’t start until their 18th birthday so you can claim at any point before then.
Generally, we would suggest that you make as early a start as possible to the pothole accident claims process. By doing so, you’ll leave enough time for medical records and supporting proof to be collected.
Some straightforward pothole claims can be settled relatively quickly in around 6 months or so. More complex cases that require additional negotiation or investigation can take a year or more.
No Win, No Fee claims
The thought of paying a solicitor to represent you in a personal injury claim and then losing your claim is a big worry for many claimants and can stop them from taking action. That’s why our solicitors provide a No Win, No Fee service for any pothole accident claim they accept.
If your claim is taken on, you’ll be sent a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) that essentially states:
- You won’t pay legal fees upfront.
- Your solicitor will advise you and act on your behalf throughout the claims process.
- Your solicitor’s legal fees do not have to be paid if the claim fails.
As your claim progresses, your solicitor will handle all communication on your behalf so you won’t need to face any complex legal or medical questions. They’ll also negotiate on your behalf to try and ensure any settlement offer is fair and fully covers your suffering.
If the claim is won, your solicitor will deduct a fixed percentage of your compensation to cover the cost of their work. This is known as a success fee and is clearly outlined in the contract.
Start a pothole accident claim today
If you’d like to start a pothole accident claim today, simply call our team on 0800 652 1345. During your free consultation, you’ll receive legal advice about your options after your claim has been fully reviewed.
If a solicitor on our panel takes your claim on, you won’t pay any legal fees whatsoever unless compensation is awarded as all claims are processed on a No Win, No Fee basis.
To find out more about filing a pothole accident claim or to ask any questions, you can arrange a claims consultation here.