Claim for Pothole Damage
It’s that time of the year where the colder weather causes a bit more damage to the UK roads and it was reported in March 2020 that fewer potholes were being repaired that the previous year.
In the financial year 2019 to 2020, 1.5m potholes were filled by local authorities, this is compared with 1.9m the year before.
If you hit one, they can cause significant damage or at worse, an accident!
If you hit a pothole that causes damage, you may be able to claim some sort of compensation, here is our guide on what you should do:
Time needed: 3 days.
Making a claim for Pothole Damage
- Collect your evidence and document the damage
Ensure you note down the exact location of the pothole, you can do this is a couple of different ways:
– Take a photo of the pothole with your smartphone and ensure that location services are turned on.
– Use your smartphone and an app such as Google Maps, drop a pin in and get the exact coordinates.
Take plenty of photos of the pothole and if possible, measure it; length, width and depth. If you haven’t got anything to measure it, try and use an everyday object that you may have in the car such as a coke can or even place your hand in and take a photo.
Make sure you record the date and time of the incident, where possible get witness’s names and addresses. If you have a dashcam, make sure you save the event.
Once you’re ready to move (if possible), take your car to a reputable damage or bodyshop and have the vehicle assessed as soon as possible.
- Establish who is responsible
You will need to find out who is responsible for the piece of road which has the pothole. Usually, Motorways and A-roads fall under Highways Agency but smaller roads could come under the local authority or council.
You should get in touch with the relevant governing body as soon as you possibly can, then make them aware of the pothole. You should do this, even if you have not had a chance to get a quote on the rectification work for your vehicles. This will help other motorists avoid any future damage to their cars.
- Make a formal complaint
Once you’ve got your quote and the evidence, its time to submit a formal complaint to the relevant authority.
You can do this in writing or via their website, however, we would suggest that you take plenty of screenshots and if sending via the Royal Mail, send it signed for.
Your letter should contain as much details as possible and include the date, time, location, measurements and your photographs. Make sure you send in a copy of the quote or repair bill for the damages.
- Seek Legal Advice where required
It is not unusual for the relevant body to offer a settlement lower than the amount you’ve claimed for. If the difference is very small, we recommend accepting this.
If the shortfall is significant, then we recommend rejecting the amount and speaking to a Solicitor.
If your claim has been rejected altogether, you could speak to a Solicitors firm for advice and see what action could be taken.
Solicitors will usually be able to build a case and submit it to a small claims court, this does carry additional costs which you will have to find and you will only get back, should you win the claim.
You could also put all of the evidence together and pursue the claim yourself through the small claims court, the process using Moneyclaim Online is pretty simple and you will have to pay the court costs.
- Claim on your insurance
If the damage is significant and you aren’t getting any response from the local authority, you could raise a claim on your insurance.
However, this will be classed as “At-fault” claim, in other words, this is the driver’s fault. You will then likely lose your no-claims bonus and increase your insurance costs.
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