This article was originally written in early 2019, when we pondered over what kind of things people tend to discuss when they randomly meet strangers. We suggested the weather as a favourite topic, but even then, we thought the state of the nations roads might crop up in conversation.
Well, whatever ups and downs many of us have experienced in the intervening years since this article first appeared on the Mooneerams Solicitors website, you can bet your bottom dollar the word ‘potholes’ is still likely to crop up in casual conversation, although probably now accompanied by a few choice expletives!
The state of the nation’s roads has been worsening year on year, as a recent article from the motoring organisation, the RAC, starkly revealed.
We have summarised some of the more startling revelations contained in the report as follows,
- It is estimated there are as many as two million unrepaired potholes in the UK.
- A motorist’s chances of breaking down because of pothole-related damage are nearly 30% higher than they were in 2019.
- There were 27,250 pothole damage-related vehicle breakdowns in the twelve-month period ending on 30th June 2023, a 20% increase on the previous year’s figures.
Has the government offered financial help to mend the backlog of potholes?
The government pledged to spend £5 billion on highway maintenance between 2020 and 2025.
However, the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey Report for 2023 indicated the increased average of £25.8 million highway budget allocated to each local authority in England and Wales for the current year, actually represents a cut in funds after accounting for rising inflation.
On average shortfalls in the year’s carriageway budget have increased by as much as 20%, and the amount needed as a one-off cost to catch up with all the maintenance required to repair the country’s damaged roads, would cost 14 billion pounds and take eleven years to complete!
The pothole situation is getting worse, and the only way it will get better, even to the point of simply catching up with the repairs needed, requires a vast amount of extra funding.
Whether the funds required to get to the point of ‘catching up’ are ever made available to local authorities is anyone’s guess. It’s a frustrating situation that few of us can do anything about
However, there is one practical thing that as specialist personal injury solicitors, we at Mooneerams Solicitors, can do, and that’s to help people who’ve suffered injuries as a result of pothole accidents to get justice!
We do this by bringing successful pothole compensation claims against local authorities which breach their duty of care by failing to maintain the roads where these accidents take place.
Can you handle all types of pothole accident claims?
Unfortunately, we aren’t able to take on pothole accident claims for motor vehicle, cycle, or motorbike damage only claims. We’d love to help, but the current rules relating to legal costs in damage only claims, make it uneconomical for us to represent you and for you to use our services.
However, if you are injured in a pothole accident, we can handle your personal injury claim together with the cost of any vehicle damage and loss of earnings brought about by the accident. We claim general damages for the injury suffered and special damages for your monetary losses such as cost of repairs and loss of earnings.
If you were in a pothole accident and your claim is for vehicle loss only, you may wish to read on, as you will find the information that follows useful, should you decide to take out a claim for vehicle damage loss only.
When can you claim for pothole injury compensation?
For cyclists, motorcyclists, car drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, who suffer injury from inadvertently driving or walking over a defect in the road, claiming for a pothole accident is the legal solution to getting the justice they deserve. ,
Mooneerams solicitors will help you to bring a pothole accident claim against the local council or highway authority whose failure to maintain the road or highway, was responsible for the accident you had and the injuries sustained.
Who is responsible for the maintenance of potholes?
If your pothole accident happened in Wales
- Traffic Cymru is responsible for maintaining Wales main ‘A’ roads and trunk roads i.e., motorways and you should report pothole and pothole accidents that happen on these types of roads, to them.
- Pothole accidents on all other types of road in the country should be reported to the relevant local authority, county or borough council.
If your pothole accident happens in England, the following authorities will be responsible
- Motorways – Highways England
- Other roads – the relevant Local Authority
- Greater London – London Borough Council (although be aware that the land neighbouring some Tube stations may be owned by Transport for London).
Utility Companies have a duty to properly repair roads after they have carried out maintenance work. If a pothole accident is caused by a utility company’s failure to repair the road after it has carried out its own maintenance work, then your claim must be reported to them, and your claim will be against them.
What size must a pothole be to make a successful personal injury claim?
It’s unlikely a local authority or the Highway Authority would accept liability in a pothole accident claim unless the depth of the pothole is at least 40mm and the width 300mm. However, there is no statutory rule on what measurements apply.
Sometimes, claims will succeed if the depth is less than 40mm. It depends on the nature of the defect, and whether the road surface surrounding the pothole is also defective. It’s best to contact a firm of personal injury solicitors, like Mooneerams at this stage, for advice on whether you might have a valid claim or not. If you call us on 029 2048 3615, we’ll be happy to advise, free of charge and without obligation.
How can I help to make my pothole claim successful?
If you suffer injury in a pothole accident, get medical treatment as soon as possible. In what appear to be serious injury cases, you may be taken to hospital as a result of a call made to the emergency services by witnesses to the accident. However serious or minor your injury appears to be, as a priority get treatment .
Other steps to take include:
- Get photographs of the scene of the accident immediately or as soon after the accident as possible. You must take photos of the pothole unless it is unsafe to ever do so. (You cannot stop on the motorway to take photos of any offending potholes. If you do, you’ll be committing a criminal offence!)
- Measure the pothole and prove the depth by placing a ruler in the pothole and taking a close-up photo that shows the measurement. The same goes for measuring the width of the pothole; place a ruler across the width of the hole and take a photo.
- With so much CCTV footage available these days, there’s a good chance the accident was caught on film. Check the accident scene for possible CCTV cameras nearby and if you find any, ask the owner for a copy of the footage, or if you ask us to handle your claim, we’ll do this for you.
- Get the contact details of any witnesses to the accident so they can provide a statement as to what they saw.
- If the police attended the accident, get hold of the incident number from them.
- Report the accident to the relevant authority.
- Call Mooneerams and find out if we think you have a claim. If believe you have a valid pothole injury claim and you would like us to handle it for you, we’ll be happy to do so.
Most pothole claims are funded using No Win No Fee agreements which take away the financial worry of claiming; if you lose, there’s nothing to pay. If you win you pay us a success fee, full details of which will be explained to you before you sign the No Win No Fee agreement.
What is the local authority’s duty to inspect and repair potholes
Councils are under a duty to keep the roads free of known defects. When they become aware of a defect either on a routine inspection or because a pothole is reported to them, they should rectify the defect within a reasonable period.
Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 states that if a highway authority can prove it had taken “such care as in all the circumstances was reasonably required to secure that the part of the highway to which the action relates was not dangerous for traffic” it may defend any claim brought against it.
This has often given local authorities a strong defence in many cases to avoid paying out on pothole claims if they can prove that they have done all that was ‘reasonably required’ to ensure the road was not dangerous to traffic, the claim will succeed.
- Many roads are in a terrible state with multiple potholes blighting them.
- It’s possible to report potholes and other road defects accurately to the relevant highway authority. As a result, this aspect of making a claim has been made much more straightforward. Therefore, potholes are being regularly reported to the appropriate authorities and not just by people who’ve been injured in pothole accidents.
- Because of the financial constraints local authorities are faced with in respect of road maintenance, many long-standing potholes simply aren’t being repaired.
Since each pothole injury claim will be viewed on its particular circumstances and merits, if you have been injured in a pothole accident, call Mooneerams Solicitors on 029 2048 3615 to speak free of charge and without obligation to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.
We only handle personal injury claims, which is probably why our success rate is high. Check out our 5*client testimonials on our website
You will not be charged for the initial advice that we give you, and neither will there be any obligation to take the claim further if you decide not to.
If you want to go ahead after speaking to us, we’ll be able to act for you on a No Win, No Fee basis, so you won’t have to worry about incurring legal fees if your claim isn’t successful.
Call us on 029 2048 3615. You will find us refreshingly straightforward.