Hitting a pothole in your car can result in damage to your vehicle. However, for cyclists and motorbike riders, potholes can result in quite severe injury. Potholes are caused by the degradation of the road, and the number of them usually increases during the winter, as the cold weather can break up the road surface. While it may seem as if an injury caused by hitting a pothole is nobody’s fault, this is not always the case, as local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that the roads are safe.
Claiming compensation for pothole injuries
Potholes can be a real hazard on our roads. For motorists, they pose the risk of damaging a vehicle, but for cyclists and motorbike riders, hitting them can be more serious. If you are injured because of a pothole, you have the right to claim for damages from whoever is responsible for the road, as they have an obligation to ensure that it is safe. Furthermore, you don’t actually have to have hit a pothole to make a claim, as in some circumstances, if you were injured because you had to swerve or take evasive action because of a pothole, you may also have the right to claim for damages.
How is liability determined?
Knowing who is responsible for maintaining a road is not always easy. While local councils maintain most roads, the Highways Agency maintains the motorways. Therefore if you are injured after hitting pothole on a road, rather than a motorway, the local council is usually responsible for its maintenance.
This doesn’t mean a council is always liable for a pothole injury. If a pothole is new and hasn’t yet been reported then a court may decide that there was nothing that the council could have done about it. However, if a pothole has been reported or has existed for some time then a council could be liable for your injury so speak to a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible, as he or she can help to establish whether the local authority is to blame.
Making a pothole injury claim
If you are injured because of a pothole then if possible take a photograph, as it may get filled in before you make your claim and a picture will help to show how severe the pothole was. In addition, if any witnesses saw your accident, ask for their details, as this may also help your claim.