Local authorities and other government agencies have a duty of care to maintain many of our roads. This means they need to inspect them regularly and repair any larger defects such as potholes. If they fail to do either, you could be compensated for any vehicle damage or personal injury sustained in an accident caused by the defect. In this guide to making a pothole injury claim, we’ll look at the council’s responsibilities for potholes, when you might be eligible to claim compensation, and how much you could be awarded.
Our specially trained advisors can advise you on what to do if you’re thinking about claiming. They will begin by reviewing your case in a no-obligation telephone consultation. After discussing what happened, they’ll go over your options and provide free legal advice. Should it look like a pothole personal injury claim is viable, they’ll partner you with one of our personal injury solicitors who’ll work on a No Win No Fee basis if your claim is accepted.
Please read on to learn about claiming for injuries caused by potholes or give us a call on 0800 6524 881 if you’re ready to begin your claim right away.
Table of contents
- Am I Eligible To Make A Pothole Injury Claim?
- How Deep Does A Pothole Have To Be To Claim?
- Common Personal Injury Claims Caused By Potholes
- How Much Compensation Will I Get For A Pothole Injury Claim?
- Evidence To Support A Pothole Accident Claim
- Time Limits For Claiming Pothole Injury Compensation
- How Long Does It Take To Settle Pothole Accident Claim?
- Starting The Pothole Injury Claims Process
Some of the main criteria you’ll have to meet to be eligible to make a personal injury claim for a pothole accident in the UK include:
- The defendant such as the local council or highway authority owed you a duty of care; and
- The pothole accident was caused by their negligence; and
- You suffered an injury as a result of the pothole accident, either physical or psychological.
If you tripped on a pavement because of a pothole or had an accident while driving on a public (or private) road and were injured because of a pothole, you’ll usually be owed a duty of care by the local authority or the landowner. As we progress, we’ll explain what that means and when you could claim compensation. We’ll also review what evidence you could use to improve your chances of being compensated.
Generally, a pothole is considered unsafe if it’s 40mm deep on the carriageway or the defect is 1 inch deep or more on the pavement. To demonstrate this, you’ll need to provide photographic evidence including some sort of measuring implement such as a ruler or tape measure. If the pothole is shallower than 1 inch, you probably won’t be able to claim compensation for any injuries.
If you are unsure about whether you could be eligible to claim for a pothole injury, please call our specialists to discuss your options.
Local authorities or councils are usually responsible for the maintenance and repair of public highways and pavements. They will need to follow the rules defined by Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980.
This requires them to inspect highways regularly and repair them in an efficient manner when defects such as potholes are identified. Busier roads like a dual carriageway or the high street will need to be inspected more regularly than a cul-de-sac with less foot or vehicle traffic.
Therefore, if you are injured by a pothole on a public highway that was known about but not rectified quickly, you could sue the council/local authority for your injuries.
The Highways Act 1980 does allow the council to defend the claim if they can show that the road or pavement was inspected within the allowed timescales and no defect was found at the time.
If the council was not aware of a defect that occurred in between inspections, it is possible that it was caused by a utility company that needed to dig up the road to carry out new installs, repairs or maintenance. They have a duty of care to repair the highway after their work has been completed. If they don’t repair a pothole or defect properly, you could direct your claim at them if it causes you to sustain an injury.
If you have an accident involving a pothole on land that is not the responsibility of the local authority, you could still make a pothole injury claim. In this instance, you’d need to identify who the land owner or occupier is. If it’s not immediately clear who’s responsible, you could ask local residents or contact the land registry for advice.
It may be possible to claim for any personal injuries caused by potholes other than the most minor. Some of the more common claims our solicitors can help with include:
Even if we’ve not listed your injury here, one of our solicitors could still help you to claim for your suffering.
It’s important to point out that if you do claim compensation for personal injuries caused by a pothole, any settlement would be based on the suffering caused by your injuries (general damages) and any lost income and/or expenses (special damages).
If you make a successful pothole injury claim, it could include damages to cover:
- The pain caused by your injuries and subsequent treatment.
- Any psychiatric damage your injuries have caused.
- Loss of income where your injuries stopped you from being well enough to work.
- Any effect your injuries have had on your hobbies, family events or social life (loss of amenity).
- Care costs if somebody else had to look after you while injured.
- Medical expenses such as physiotherapy or private remedial surgery.
- Fuel costs, parking fees or other travel expenses.
- The cost of buying replacements for personal property damaged during the accident.
- The cost of adapting your home if changes will help you to manage better with a permanent disability.
- Future loss of income if you’ll lose money in the long term because of your injuries.
If your pothole injury claim is managed by one of our solicitors, they will make sure they fully understand how you’ve been affected before filing your claim with the defendant.
The compensation calculator, below, shows you the guideline compensation figures for a range of relevant injuries caused by pothole accidents.
To determine how severe your injuries were, you’ll need a medical assessment as part of your pothole injury claim. This isn’t something to worry about and it will usually happen locally so you won’t need to travel far. An independent specialist will examine your injuries and discuss how you’ve suffered before producing a report that explains your prognosis.
In any type of personal injury claim, you will need to show how the accident occurred, the seriousness of your injury, and who caused the accident. For a pothole injury claim, you could use:
- Witness statements. These could be used to confirm how the accident happened or how long the pothole had been present.
- Medical evidence. If your injuries were treated by your doctor, at a hospital or in a minor injuries facility, your solicitor could ask for copies of your medical notes to prove the severity of your injuries.
- CCTV or dashcam footage. You should look to secure any relevant CCTV footage if your accident was caught on camera. Legally, you’re entitled to ask for the relevant recording but you should act quickly as it won’t be retained for long.
- Accident reports. You should report the pothole accident to the local authority or the organisation responsible for the area where your accident happened. An accident report form can be used as evidence to prove the date, time and location of your accident.
- Photographs. As explained earlier, photographs of the pothole are important. Additionally, you should take pictures of any visible injuries as well.
- Proof of expenses. If you’ve incurred any expenses as a result of the pothole accident, such as prescription costs for medication etc, keep the receipts for these expenses.
- Wage slips. If your injury from the pothole accident has meant you’ve lost earnings from having to take sick leave to recover, your wage slips and bank statements could be used as evidence.
As part of our free consultation, we’ll consider any evidence you have already obtained so please have it ready when you call.
If you have suffered a pothole injury and would like to claim compensation, you’ll need to claim within a 3-year time limit. This usually starts on the date you were injured, or when your injuries were diagnosed.
It’s often best to begin the pothole injury claims process sooner rather than later. One benefit of doing so is that the personal injury solicitor representing you could request the defendant pay for the cost of private medical treatment before your claim is finalised. You’ll also find it much easier to collect evidence to support your claim.
The time it takes to settle a pothole accident claim can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the case, the extent of the injuries the claimant has sustained, and the cooperation of the parties involved.
Generally, however, a straightforward pothole accident claim that is typically accepted by the responsible party’s insurer and does not require court proceedings can be settled within a few months. However, if the claim is disputed or if court proceedings are necessary, it can take much longer, sometimes up to a year or more.
If you speak with one of our solicitors they may be able to give you a better idea of how long your claim could take.
If you’ve read our guide on pothole injury claims and decided that you’d like to discuss your options, please give us a call on 0800 6524 881. When you get in touch, one of our specially-trained advisors will review your claim with you and explain your chances of success.
If the claim is strong enough, we’ll pass it on to one of our solicitors. If they agree to represent you, they’ll do so on a No Win No Fee basis.
Please use live chat or give us a call if you have any further questions about the pothole injury claims process.