Pothole Accident Injury Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a pothole accident we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a pothole accident and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
In our guide to claiming
Hazards such as potholes, uneven paving stones and raised manhole covers can cause trips and falls; resulting in serious injury to cyclists and pedestrians.
Pedestrians and cyclists, in particular, may sustain serious personal injury from trips, slips and falls, but potholes can also damage the wheels and suspension of motor vehicles.
Do I have an injury claim?
It should be possible to make an injury claim if you sustained an injury:
- in the last three years, and;
- someone else was at fault, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
Injury claim eligibility - Common questions
What if the road accident was my fault?
If you think you were partly responsible for the road accident or for your injury, it should still be possible to make a claim.
In these cases, claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.
For example, if you were 50% responsible for your injuries, you would receive 50% less compensation.
What if the driver was uninsured or untraceable?
If the driver responsible for the injury is either uninsured or untraceable, a claim can be pursued through the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).
The MIB is an independent body that pays road accident compensation to the victims of uninsured or untraced (unidentified) drivers.
What if a child was injured?
The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.
A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start an injury claim on their own behalf.
Can I make a pothole accident injury claim right up to the three-year limit?
Technically, yes. However, in practice, not always. Many solicitors will not take on a pothole accident injury claim that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires. The panel of solicitors will take a claim on as late as possible where it is felt that the claim could be successful.
What is the council's responsibility?
'Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980'
Maintenance of pavements and highways is generally the responsibility of the local councils' or authorities' highways departments who should follow the standard guidelines set out in Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980.
Therefore where an accident has occurred due to an inadequately maintained road or pavement surface, any claims for injuries sustained should be brought against the local council.
Is the local council always liable?
Councils are expected to rectify faults within a reasonable period of inspecting and identifying defects. Where defects are known but the information not acted upon, a council may be liable for any accident as a result of that defect.
However, section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 states if that a highway authority can prove that it had taken "such care as in all the circumstances was reasonably required to secure that the part of the highway to which the action relates . . ." it may defend any claim against it.
So if a local council can prove through its inspection records that the location was visited recently and there were no defects at that time, it can defend the Claim.
For example, if the accident occurred on the 1st July on a road which had a 3 monthly inspection period, and the last inspection had been on 1st May, then the council could argue that as the accident was between the inspection dates they should not be at fault.
Sometimes hazards are created by other authorities - such as utility companies digging up roads. Accidents may occur where the road surface has not been finished to the correct standard or a hole has been left unprotected.
In these cases any claims for compensation should be brought against the organisation responsible, so it is important to note who that is.
Injuries sustained on a private road or property?
If the accident occurred whilst on land not owned by the local authority, or a private house, any claim would be made against the landowner or occupant. Again it is important to determine who this is.
How do I make a claim?
A claimant must demonstrate that the pothole caused a danger to traffic or pedestrians and that defect occurred as a result of the failure to maintain or repair that highway.
To show the pothole was a danger it is important to gather evidence quickly. Notes detailing the exact location of the defect in relation to the road or pavement, and the direction of travel when the accident occurred will help. Also document the road name and those nearby, and the time and date.
To help show the position of the defect in its location take photographs from several angles.
Pavements and highways are not expected to be totally smooth and level and there is often leeway for uneven pavements. A ‘depth of trip' of at least 2 cms is actionable; so obtain measurements of length, depth and width where practicable.
Take contact details of any witnesses to the accident. They may be able to provide evidence should the need arise to make a claim.
Photographing any injuries or damage sustained as well as the road defect will help support your claim.
Evidence that may help your claim
Local shops or businesses may have CCTV cameras showing footage of the accident or other accidents that have occurred in the same location. Most CCTV records are deleted after 28 days so it is important to check promptly.
If the hazard has been reported recently (outside of inspection periods) but not repaired, then the council may be liable.
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the extent of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?
If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.
The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.
General damages for a serious neck injury can be £52,000
For a more minor wrist injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £2,900.
However, if you have a serious neck injury and a more minor wrist injury, you would typically receive £52,000 + a reduced percentage of £2,900.
Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries. Read more about multiple injury claims.
What is the average injury compensation for an injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Will a road accident claim affect my benefits?
It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your injury claim could be worth now:
How long does a pothole injury claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation for a pothole accident can vary considerably.
A simple liability accepted road accident claim could be completed in a couple of months. If liability is denied, however, it could take longer. Typically, a road accident claim should take 4 to 9 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, read: How long will my claim take?
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
No win, no fee
Under a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if your claim is not successful.
Our no win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an injury claim - even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?
If your injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning road accident claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make an injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an injury after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a car accident claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert