It’s clear to see that the UK road network is in terrible condition. The number of drivers suffering damage caused by the road is soaring. This article provides a guide to claiming for damage caused to your vehicle by potholes. Furthermore, it should help you get the financial compensation you deserve to help repair your vehicle, or replace your tyres.
A Continental premium tyre is tough and dependable, but not immume to ever deteriorating road conditions – especially potholes. Although it can look like it has survived an initial impact from a pothole, damage can show up later when further stresses have been placed on the tyre. Often, harm to the internal structure of a tyre can appear in the form of a bulge within the sidewall. If you should notice this after hitting a pothole, the tyre should be replaced as soon as possible. But, as potholes are the responsibility of the local authority, how should you go about claiming for this damage?
Step 1 – Take photographs and notes
The first thing you should do after suffering an impact is to make a record of the location and road name or number. You should also note the direction you were travelling in, where the pothole is located, its size and depth and, if possible, obtain the contact information of any witnesses. When out on the road, be doubly careful to ensure that it is safe to take photographs. It is also useful to add an object – such as a drinks bottle – into the picture to help with scale to show how big the pothole is.
Step 2 – Report the pothole
All potholes should be reported, even if you don’t intend to claim damages. The authority in charge of the road should be made aware of the problem so that it can assign repairs as soon as possible. Major roads are managed by the Highways England, while county, city or borough councils are responsible for repairs and maintenance of other routes.
Step 3 – Carry out repairs
Obviously, caring for your vehicle is very important, as it needs to be kept in a safe and roadworthy condition. Keep all quotes, invoices and receipts for the work that has been carried out, and create a duplicate copy of everything; you will need to provide this to the authorities when submitting your claim. If the damage is more severe than a broken alloy and damaged tyre, you should get in touch with your insurer and report the damage to them.
Step 4 – Make your claim in writing
Claims to the relevant authority should be made in writing (send by recorded delivery which requires a signature, for proof of posting and receipt). You must provide a clear and detailed account of the event that damaged your vehicle, including what happened, where and when it occurred, and the costs of repairing the damage. Be aware that your claim stands a higher chance of being accepted if the authority in question was already aware of the pothole but had not fixed it. See section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 – or if road maintenance guidelines have not been followed.
Step 5 – Dealing with rejection
Sometimes the authorities will reject your claim. If this happens, try to stay calm. It won’t help to get angry. Consider putting in a request under the Freedom of Information Act to find out how frequently the road that damaged your car is inspected and maintained. There is a good chance that it might not satisfy the nationally recommended standards for highway maintenance.
Step 6 – Negotiate
It is worth considering negotiating with the authority in charge of the maintenance of the road. It may well prefer to do this than risk the cost of a court case. This is also beneficial to you, as, where possible, all parties should avoid the courts due to the increased costs involved if you should lose.
Step 7 – Use the small claims court
This should only be used as a last resort. If you feel that the authority in charge of the road has failed to abide by national guidelines on road maintenance – and you believe you have a case, you should consider making a small claims case. Again, be aware, though, that losing such a legal battle could bring severe financial penalties – higher than the costs of repairs to your vehicle.