In fact, according to figures obtained by the Federation of Small Businesses, the number of reported potholes in England has risen by 13.5 percent in one year, with almost 700,000 potholes being reported in 2018/19.
Your local council or Highway Authority has a duty to keep road surfaces, pavements and walkways safe for use – and as part of this, they should fill in potholes as quickly as possible after they’ve been reported to keep members of the public safe.
If they’re left, potholes can get worse over time. For drivers, this can cause road accidents as large potholes can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. But on pavements they can also lead to slips, trips and falls, causing painful injuries for pedestrians.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of an accident caused by a pothole, then a solicitor may be able to help you make a personal injury claim to cover the costs of your injury, as well as the longer-term effects it may have on your life.
You can get in touch with a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 for free advice, and they’ll be able to let you know whether you could make a pothole injury claim.
Councils do have some rules on how deep a pothole needs to be for you to be able to claim compensation. This varies from council to council, but most use 40mm depth as the standard. Some councils also require a pothole to be a minimum width – again this varies between councils but most use 300mm as the benchmark.
If it doesn’t meet the minimum depth or width, then it will be classed as a ‘carriageway defect’ and so might not be considered dangerous enough for you to be able to make a claim.
The best way to find out whether you have a case is to get in touch with a trained legal adviser who will be happy to help. But generally speaking, it’s likely you can claim if your accident happened in the last three years. Your solicitor will need to be able to prove:
Under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, the Highway Authority has a legal duty to maintain public roads and pavements, and must be able to show that they monitor roads for damage, and repair any potholes quickly. If your injuries were caused by a pothole on a public road, your claim would usually be made against the Highway Authority or local council. But in some cases, the pothole might have been caused by a utility company failing to properly re-surface the road or pavement after carrying out work – if this applies to your accident, your claim would be brought against the utility company instead.
If your accident was caused by a pothole on privately owned property, such as a shop car park, you may be able to claim against the owner of the property if you can show that they’ve failed to maintain it or warn you of the hazard.
It’s not uncommon for the other party to deny responsibility for your accident at first. If this happens, then your solicitor will need to gather evidence and build a case to prove that your injuries were their fault.
When deciding who’s responsible for the accident, the court will consider:
To give you the best chance of making a successful compensation claim, there’s some evidence you can gather to help your solicitor prove that the person responsible for maintaining the road was negligent. If possible, it can be useful to keep the following:
You should also call the local authority to report the pothole. If you suffered any injuries, your solicitor will arrange for you to go for a free medical assessment to get an official medical report produced.
The amount of compensation you can claim for your accident will depend on how serious your injury is, and the effect it’s had on your life. Because injury solicitors look at each case on an individual basis, it’s difficult to tell exactly how much you could receive before starting your claim. But you can be sure that an expert injury solicitor will work hard to make sure you receive all the compensation you deserve.
For a guideline figure, you can try our free online compensation calculator. Once you’ve spoken to a solicitor and told them some more details about your accident, they may be able to give you a better idea of your likely compensation amount.
It can be very upsetting to see a child injured – and it can be especially hard to accept if the accident was caused because of somebody else’s negligence.
If your child has suffered an injury because of the negligence of a highway authority, then you can seek help to make a claim on their behalf. You have until your child is 18 to begin the claim. After they turn 18, they then have three years to bring the claim themselves.
It’s a good idea to contact a trained legal adviser as soon as possible on 0800 234 6438 so they can start the process while events are still fresh in the minds of everyone involved and evidence is more easily available.
Lucy is a NCTJ trained journalist who studied law at the University of Greenwich. She is a legal journalist and editor with more than 20 years experience writing about the law.
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