Pothole accident compensation claims - Introduction
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.
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.
How much compensation can you claim for a pothole accident?
Personal injury compensation guidelines are laid out by the Judicial College (formerly the Judicial Studies Board). Compensation awards are proposed with reference to an injury's extent and nature. Duration and likelihood of recovery will also be considered. In the Judicial College guidelines, amounts are set out tables of minimums and maximums for an injury or other medical condition.
Technically these guidelines are not law yet insurance companies, solicitors and the Courts will follow them in the majority of cases. A Compensation Claims Report will include a in-depth assessment and calculation of the compensation you claim could be worth by referring to these guidelines as well as a number of other factors specific to your accident or illness.
Where an existing medical condition or injury has been exacerbated by the accident or illness, you may still be able to claim compensation.
Travel expenses including those to hospital appointments, the cost of medical treatment and ongoing care and loss of earnings can also usually compensated for, and are defined as special damages in legal terminology.
100% No Win, No Fee pothole accident compensation claim - No Catch
A no win no fee agreement (also called a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) is entered into between the claimant and a personal injury lawyer.
The no win no fee agreement is the conditions under which the solicitor works for the claimant.
The contract documents what the lawyers will actually do as well as how he will be paid if your compensation claim is successful.
If you instruct a Quittance Personal Injury solicitor for your pothole accident claim there are absolutely no extra fees , nothing to pay up-front and the comfort that you will not be financially out of pocket.
Serious injury case study
£1.2m awarded following a fatal road traffic accident View case study