RAC Cars News


Would You Claim Compensation For Pothole Damage?

By raccars Published

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Britain's pothole problem is not only annoying, it can also be very inconvenient and expensive. If your car suffers damage from a pothole, you face having to find alternative transport while it is off the road and paying a repair bill. However, you may have a case for compensation to be paid by the relevant local authority.

If the road is in such a poor condition that driving it damages your car or, even worse, pushes you into a collision, the local authority might pay out. First of all, you need to work out who is responsible for that section of road. Motorways and some of the busier A roads are handled by Highways England, which used to be known as The Highways Agency. Smaller roads and roads in residential areas are the responsibility of the local authority.

If you travel over a pothole and are worried it may have damaged your car, stop as soon as it's safe to do so and look for visible signs of damage. Check tyres for punctures, bulges and tears - tyres may deflate immediately upon a dramatic impact. Study your wheels for dents and cracks, then test your car's tracking by driving it and noting if it pulls to one side or stays in a straight line. Beware also of steering wheel vibrations.

If you notice any faults which you believe could have been caused by the pothole, you will need to gather supporting evidence. Write down the date, time and specific location of the incident, such as the name of the road and any mile markers nearby, note which direction you were travelling and details of the pothole itself - size, depth, distance from the kerb. Take photos at the scene and, if possible, give your claim some weight by providing a sense of the scale of the pothole using a prop - a bottle of water, a pen or some other familiar object next to the pothole in the photo gives some perspective. Make sure you don't obstruct any other traffic while this operation is taking place!

You will also need to obtain written quotes from garages to repair the damage. Make sure the description of the work specifically includes the detail that the damage was caused by driving over a pothole. Include more than one quote if that's convenient and keep the invoice for any work you have had carried out.

Different authorities have different procedures for processing claims. If you advise Highways England that you wish to make a claim, you will be sent a form to complete if the claim is considered reasonable. You must include your car's MOT certificate with your other supporting evidence. If you are claiming from a local authority, contact them to ask their procedure for claims.

An authority may use the defence that it was unaware a pothole existed in that location and prior to the specific incident. Unless the authority has been notified of a pothole by a member of the public or some other agency, or during a road condition survey, it can claim that it has not had a chance to repair the pothole. In this case, the onus would be on the claimant to prove that the authority did in fact already have previous knowledge of the road's condition.

Ultimately, there is no guarantee your claim will be successful, but it's worth following the procedure if only so that the authority is then made aware of a pothole and can make arrangements to repair it. The best case scenario is that your repairs will be refunded, and even in the worst case, other drivers may be spared a similar problem.

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