Some of us in the South West have endured the anguish of being stranded on an unlit road in the dark having driven into a pothole and calling out the motoring club for assistance. Unfortunately, with local authority budgets limited, the pothole crisis in the area seems to get worse every month.
Local and highways authorities have obligations to maintain and keep roads in good repair, so the question many of us ask is: can I claim compensation for the damage that has been caused to my car, such as a burst tyre or broken wheel rim?
Essentially, the answer is “yes”, although the authority can defend a claim if it was unaware of the pothole or has exercised a reasonable maintenance system.
It is important, following the incident, to get evidence of the individual pothole that caused the problem, checking its measurements and photographing it for the record. You will also need evidence of damage to the car which might include, again, photographs, garage invoices, etc. Contact the local authority as soon as possible after the incident to make sure that they are aware of the problem and the location of the pothole and tell them that you wish to make a claim.
The Direct Gov website should tell you who is responsible for maintaining the road in question. Often, it would be the County Council. Devon County Council aim to provide an initial response to all damage claims within 4 weeks, but they say that the process after that, can in some cases, take up to 90 days to conclude.
You should be able to make a claim yourself, but in the unlikely event you have any difficulties, please contact me, Mark Ollier, or our litigation team.