Now of course it is not the case that every time a car goes into a pothole there is a claim to be made. Whether you can successfully make a claim depends on whether the organisation responsible for the maintenance of the road has been negligent. That will usually be the local authority but in the case of some roads e.g. motorways it will be Transport Scotland. For the sake of clarity we will just refer to “the council”.
All roads eventually develop potholes, some faster and some slower than others depending on the type of material used, how carefully it was laid, what the ground under the road is doing and even the weather and the grits used to de-ice the road in winter have a part to play in breaking down the surface.
Local Authorities Responsible For Pothole Repairs
All local authorities therefore have a system for maintaining the road periodically and inspecting the road is the first step in that system. The condition of the road will be looked at and the existence of potholes will be noted and graded according to their size and depth. A view will be taken, depending on the type of road, whether they are capable of being left until the road is repaired as part of the ongoing programme or temporarily repaired on an emergency basis until a more substantial patch can be carried out in the medium term.
Have Necessary Repairs Been Undertaken?
Provided that the system put in place is reasonable and that the system of inspection is carried out properly and that any repairs are carried out properly and in a reasonable time then that would be a defence to a claim against the council. But of course the system is being operated by human beings and they are fallible. People don’t notice things they should notice, or judge things differently. That little hole will be fine for another six months they say. And then you come along three months later and drive into the hole and go off the road into a ditch.
Pothole Claim: Steps to Take
So what should you do when you have dusted yourself off? First things first, document the hole. Everyone these days has a smartphone with a camera and can take virtually unlimited photos. So take a lot of photos of the hole and the location of the hole. Don't hold back, get down and photograph the edges of the hole. Use a fifty pee piece or a matchbox to show the scale, so that the depth of the hole is capable of being gauged. If there are witnesses asks them politely for their names and phone numbers.
What If You Are Injured?
If you have been injured then it is important to document that by attendance at your GP or A & E where appropriate. Where your car is damaged and repaired keep any documentation from the garage such as receipts. It is useful to get an itemised breakdown of the work and who did the work. Photos of the damage are always helpful.
If you have been injured or your car has been damaged as a result of a pothole in the road, get in touch, we can help.