Potholes are the cause of many accidents each year, either because you hit them and injure yourself as you come off your bike, or avoid them and collide with another vehicle.
Hitting a pothole could lead to an accident that wasn’t your fault, and means
that you could have a claim.
According to the BBC the number of potholes filled in by councils in England and Wales has increased to almost 1.7 million, with one being fixed every 19 seconds.
That’s a lot of potholes, and with more motorcycles on the road that’s a lot of accidents waiting to happen.
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What should I do if I hit a pothole?
The Highways Act 1980 places a legal duty on your local authority to inspect, maintain and repair roads in their area.
The local authority will have a set procedure in place which will include:
A walked inspection of the defective road surface. An inspector will walk along the road recording defects. You might also notice spray paint around the defect to highlight attention to them for the repair team who will follow.
There will be a schedule for inspections of different road types, which will include walked inspections and also an inspection in a slowly driven vehicle. You would expect that major roads would be inspected more often than lesser used roads.
Once the local authority has recorded a defect, there will be a set period of time for their repair.
How do you report if you’ve had an accident caused by a pothole?
You should contact your local authority in writing to advise them of your accident. If you’re posting a letter, take a copy of it and send it recorded delivery.
Many local authorities will have a website with a link to a specific form to allow you to do that, so use that as a starting point and keep a copy of any receipt you receive for the form submission.
The local authority will make a record of your accident and investigate the damaged road surface.
This record will also create the record that we will need to pursue a claim for you for personal injury and any damage to your bike against the local authority.
How do I prove my case against the local authority?
To increase your chances of being successful in your claim against the local authority you could also try and and do the following:
Take photographs at the scene of the accident. Take photos of the defect, and most importantly place something against the defect in order that the size of the defect can be ascertained. The local authority will measure the defect with a ruler set against it.
Seek medical help immediately. The local authority will ask for copies of your medical report following your accident so this is a vital part of how their negligence affected you. It will also ensure that you are properly treated for your injuries.
Continue to take photographs as your injuries develop, for example bruising coming out, and keep a record of how you feel each day.
If there are witnesses to your accident get their details. Witness statements help us to gain independent corroboration of your accident and help us prove causation and liability.
If you have damaged your kit and need to replace it, keep receipts for all your expenditure. Our SMIDSY card gives our clients discount on new kit, so apply for one and make use of it. Apply HERE
If you have to travel by public transport due to your bike being off the road, again keep the receipts.
How big does a pothole have to be to make a claim?
Councils do have some rules and regulations on how deep a pothole has to be before they will consider a claim for compensation for you. It differs, but an average of 40mm is the standard depth.
The image below shows the depth needed. Use it to measure the depth. If its deeper than 4cm then you could have a claim.
What should you do if you’ve been involved in an accident?
Don’t move until you’ve checked yourself for injuries. Back and neck injuries can be made worse by moving after the accident before medical help arrives.
Don’t remove your helmet unless you are having difficulty breathing. This would take over any concern about head or spinal injuries
Get someone at the scene to call 999 immediately.
Don’t try to move your bike and stay where you are as long as you are not in any further danger from moving traffic.
Check yourself for injuries, and remove any new or additional dangers.
All of our team are legally qualified ranging from Solicitors to Legal Executives, and all are also bikers. Some of our team are also APIL members https://www.apil.org.uk/ which helps to ensure that we are all up to date with leading case law on personal injury and compensation awards.