Report the Pothole – Make a Claim

Potholes are worse than ever and while you might think you can make a claim for the damage to your vehicle, bike or body this isn’t always the case. Report the pothole.
However, if you have really incurred damage it might be worth trying:

1. Evidence

It isn’t always easy but make sure you always have enough battery on your phone to take photos. Before you do though make sure it is safe to do so.

Get your vehicle or bike to a garage or repairers as soon as possible for an assessment of the damage. Ask for a written report.

If you have witnesses, ask them to make a statement too. It can’t be hearsay, evidence must be factual – collect times, dates, weather, the direction of travel, other vehicles and activity on the road as well as the general condition of the road.

2. Find the Road Owner

Councils do not own or manage all roads. There is a hierarchy:

  • Unadopted roads tend to be owned the landowner and this will be difficult for you to make a claim.
  • Smaller A and B roads are maintained by local councils.
  • Larger A roads are managed by the Highways Agency.

Remember you will need to prove negligence on the part of the managing agency, again not easy! On private roads, for example, going to a bed and breakfast property, hotel or even garage or farm, speak to the owner directly.

3. Evidence for the Next Step

To prove negligence start by asking for copies of road maintenance activity and reports within 14 days of the accident. This should hopefully show any reported pothole that has not been treated or that the road has not been generally maintained.

Your goal is to show that if the council had effectively maintained the road the damage would not have occurred.

4. Report the Pothole

Send a formal claim through the council reporting system

In our area you can report claims:

Milton Keynes smaller A and B roads.

Website: Milton Keynes Council – Report a Pothole

West Northants smaller A and B roads.

Website: West Northants Council – Report a Pothole

Larger A-roads and motorways within the area and outside of the area.

Website: Highways Agency – Report a Pothole

Cyclists can report pothole incidents/potholes through the Cycling UK, National Cycling Charity

Website: Fill That Hole

The website helps you to identify the exact location of the pothole with Google Maps / GPS when you download their app.

For incidents on a motorway or A-road, contact the Highways Agency.

5. Compensation

The relevant body must maintain roads to a reasonable state and if they haven’t you may be entitled to compensation. The law would consider that they failed in their duties.  You may stand a better chance of getting compensation if someone has reported the pothole but the council has not taken action within reasonable timescales.

Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 gives councils a statutory defence! Basically, if they can show they have taken reasonable care to keep the road safe you may not have a case. This includes the defence that they weren’t aware of the pothole or even that they had a reasonable system for maintenance and inspection of the road network.  Therefore, if the workers had not identified the pothole after their last inspection and no one had reported it, they may reject your claim.  If someone had reported it but the maintenance crew did not repair or stick to the maintenance guidelines your case will be stronger. The council normally mark up reported or identified potholes with paint marks.

6. Success

If you prove negligence and they make an offer, make sure it covers all your costs and if it doesn’t don’t be afraid to go back to the council. If the council reject your claim, you are can get legal advice, often through your insurance company or make a claim through the courts. You’ll need to balance out whether the stress of the process is worth it for what you will get back.

7. Insurance

Report the damage to the insurance company straight away because if you can not get compensation you may need to make a claim.  Consider if the claim is worth making a claim. All claims will affect your excess payments and No Claims Bonus.