Every January, the UK ‘celebrates’ National Pothole Day – a campaign to draw attention to the crumbling state of our roads.
Recent figures from the RAC show the organisation attended more than 10,000 pothole-related breakdowns last year: an average of 27 call-outs every day.
To be classified as safety defects, potholes are generally wider than 15cm (6 inches) in diameter, or deeper than 4cm (1.5 inches) of the road surface thickness. Hit one and you risk damage to the car’s wheels, tyres, suspension, steering or bodywork.
This article explains how you can claim financial compensation for pothole damage – and how to bolster that claim with the right evidence.
If your car has been damaged by a pothole, it’s possible to claim compensation. The success of the claim will depend on whether the pothole has been reported. Councils are not liable for a defect they are unaware of.
The organisation you contact depends on the location and type of road. In all cases, you will need to be armed with the following information:
Details of the pothole damage.
Why you think the organisation is responsible.
The specific location where the damage took place. Include the road name and the nearest marker post number or feature.
The date and time when the pothole damage was caused.
Who do I contact to claim for pothole damage?
England·Most A-roads and motorways: Highways England on 0300 123500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.·
London red routes: Transport for London on 0343 222 1234. ·
Other roads: contact the local council.
You can use this link to identify the council in question and to report a pothole.
Scotland·Most A-roads and motorways: Traffic Scotland on 0800 028 1414 or email@example.com.·Other roads: contact the local council.
Wales·Most A-roads and motorways: Traffic Wales on 0300 123 1213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.·Other roads: contact the local council.
Northern Ireland·Apply online to the Department for Infrastructure to claim compensation for all types of road.
Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 provides local authorities with a statutory defence if they can prove reasonable care was taken to secure the road, and that the pothole wasn’t dangerous to traffic. This means they may not be liable if they were unaware of the pothole or it wasn’t picked up by their own system of maintenance.
According to Which?, you should take the following steps when making a claim for pothole damage:
Collect evidence of pothole damage. Make a note of the precise location, take photos showing the depth of the pothole and damage to the car. Do not put yourself in danger when collecting evidence. Trespassing on a motorway is a criminal offence, so do not visit or try to photograph the location where your vehicle was damaged.
Report the pothole to the relevant authority.
Keep all receipts for repair work. If you haven’t fixed the damage yet, get a quote.
Make a claim. Check the specific procedure for making a claim.
Negotiate with the council. If you receive an offer, you may be able to negotiate.
Appeal a rejected claim. Ask to see the details of the council’s road inspection reports. You can also use the small claims court to pursue a claim.