How to claim pothole compensation if your car is damaged?
There’s been a huge 63% increase in the number of breakdown’s caused by potholes – but with no other cars involved how do you claim for damage and how do you increase your chances of a payout?
Pothole-related breakdowns surged in the first three months of 2017, new figures show. The RAC said the condition of local roads is on a knife-edge and one season of cold and wet weather could make it worse than ever. It dealt with more than 6,500 breakdowns between January and March likely to be attributable to poor road surfaces, up 63% on the same period last year. This included broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers and distorted wheels. The last time the firm recorded as many pothole-related defects was in the first quarter of 2015.
It described the figures as a major concern because it expected the mild and comparatively dry winter to lead to a reduction in incidents. RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Our figures sadly show a surprising and unwelcome first quarter rise in the number of breakdowns where the poor quality of the road surface was a major factor.
“We had expected a figure no worse than that recorded in the first quarter of 2016 (4,026) and it is very concerning that the roads, strangely, appear to have deteriorated in a mild, comparatively dry winter.”
He added: “Certainly anyone that has experienced a breakdown as a result of hitting a pothole will know just how frustrating that can be, not to say dangerous and expensive if damage to their vehicle is sustained.
“The backlog in preventative maintenance reported by the Alarm survey suggests we are on a knife-edge and it will only take one season of poor weather to take us back to where we were a few years ago.”
The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, say councils fix a pothole every 19 seconds, amounting to 1.75 million per year.
What to do if your car is damaged
While it’s the local council’s responsibility to keep the roads in a good condition – they have been known to reject claims for compensation.
If you damage your vehicle in a pothole follow these steps to avoid a negative response like this:
- Collect evidence – Take photographs of the pothole (including close-up images and images of its location on the road), the size and depth of the pothole – you can use something like a ruler in the photograph to demonstrate this – and the damage to your vehicle.
- Assess the damage – You need to know how much it is going to cost to repair the damage caused to your vehicle. Obtain written quotes for this.
- Make a report – All councils allow you to report potholes via their websites. When you make a report, include all the supporting evidence you have collated and the quotes to repair the damage.
The council will review all the evidence you have provided and make an assessment as to their liability.
If you have submitted all the relevant evidence they are more likely to pay out. However, section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 provides councils with a statutory defence if they can show that reasonable care was taken to secure the road and that it wasn’t dangerous to traffic. In other words, if the local authority knew about the pothole but hasn’t repaired it, or hasn’t followed road maintenance guidelines, you may be able to claim compensation.
Dean Dunham – Sunday Mirror
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