How to Claim for Pothole Damage
The RAC has released figures for call outs relating to pothole damage revealing a massive 125% increase over the past 10 years.
Back in 2006 call outs relating to pothole damage accounted for 0.4% of all call outs, in 2016 this figure has risen to 0.9% suggesting the condition of Britain’s roads are in decline. In the latest study from the RAC a spike in pothole call outs was recorded between 2007 and 2009 when pothole damage accounted for 1.1% of all calls for roadside assistance.
David Bizley, RAC Chief Engineer considered these findings;
“This analysis suggests that the quality of the UK’s roads suffered a steady decline from the start of 2007 through to the end of 2009, presumably due to lack of investment and maintenance and resurfacing during worsening economic times.
Since then injections of short term funding have addressed the immediate aftermath of periods of extreme weather but have not been sufficient to tackle the underlying problem”
The government has announced it plans to fill 4 million potholes by 2020/21 so they are aware of the pesky potholes all drivers try to avoid. With pothole damage becoming an increasingly common problem, here is our guide to all things pothole!
How are potholes formed?
As with all things here in Britain the weather has a massive role to play in the formation of potholes. Moisture such as rain water, which we tend to get a lot of, can creep into a crack in the road. If the temperature nears 0 degrees the water will then freeze widening the original tiny crack and after many freezing and thawing cycles that tiny crack can become the potholes we see all over our roads.
What damage can a pothole cause?
Damage to a vehicle can include but may not be limited to; tyre damage, wheel damage, steering alignment broken shock absorbers and damage to suspension springs.
In some of the most dangerous cases a pothole can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle which may then crash into surrounding objects such as other vehicles or the curb.
Can I claim for pothole damage to my car?
Make sure you know who to claim from first! You need to claim from the authority responsible for the road where the damage occurred. Generally Highways England is responsible for all motorways and major A roads while your local council will be responsible for minor A roads and B roads. You can check who is responsible for any road on the Highways Agency map.
Make sure damage was truly caused by a pothole. To be classed as a pothole damage on the road must be 40mm deep according to the well maintained highways code of practice.
According to section 58 of the Highways Act authorities can use statutory defence to reject your claim. This means an authority cannot be held responsible for a defect they were never made aware of. The lesson here is to always report every pothole you see, this way authorities will be made aware of every dip in the road leaving them no excuse when a driver tries to claim for pothole damage.
To use Section 58 local authorities must be sure they can prove regular inspections of the road and repairs have been carried out. You can get this information for yourself. Contacting your local authority with a Freedom of Information Request means you can ask for a copy of their inspection and maintenance logs as well as their policy for inspection and maintenance. There is no special legal wording needed for this, an email asking for the information under the Freedom of Information Act should be sufficient and you should receive a response within 20 days.
What information should I collect for my claim?
Always make sure it is safe to stop. The Highways Agency do not recommend stopping to take pictures as it is an offence to trespass on a motorway. Do not put yourself in any danger on the road.
- Date and time of incident
- Names and contact details of any other witnesses
- Exact location of pothole, the road name any landmarks, whether it is near a blind corner or hidden, a rough sketch will help.
- If safe to do so take pictures of the pothole and measure depth
- Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle
Highways England along with most local authorities will send you a Damage Report Form if they feel you have a valid claim, you will need to provide the following further information;
- Copies of any estimates or invoices for repairs to your vehicle
- A current MOT certificate
- Photographs of the damage to your vehicle
Hopefully your claim will be successful, but you must be prepared to accept less money as a partial offer may be made or your claim may be rejected. If you have fully comprehensive insurance you may be able to claim against this. First be sure to calculate how much this will cost you in terms of the excess you will be liable to pay and whether you will lose any no claims bonus.
Do you think the state of Britain’s roads is declining or have you ever claimed successfully for pothole damage?
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