Potholes are an increasing problem on the UK’s roads, causing untold damage to vehicles that are driven over them.
According to a report by consumer champions Which?, published in March 2015, seven out of ten drivers said they had hit potholes in the previous two years and one-third of those said their vehicles were damaged.
However, only 64% of drivers whose cars are damaged because of potholes actually make a claim from the relevant local authority or Highways Agency.
With the average claim for compensation being £188 for damage caused to a vehicle because of a pothole, it’s worth pursuing because even at slow speeds, hitting a pothole could cause damage to your steering alignment, suspension, wheels and tyres.
You don’t have to claim on your insurance to receive compensation for damage, either.
So, what should you do?
1. When you hit a pothole, document exactly where it happened. Taking a photograph is ideal, if it’s safe to do so. Make sure you show the depth and scale of the pothole (comparing it with an object, if possible).
2. Report the pothole to the correct authority – check on the directgov website if you aren’t sure which council is responsible or if the pothole is on an A road or motorway, contact the Highways Agency.
3. You may be able to claim compensation from a local authority if the pothole has previously been reported but has not been repaired.
4. Before you make a claim, contact the relevant local authority or Highways Agency to see if they will compensate you for the repair costs (they may have a protocol that requires specific information – a fast claims system).
5. Keep all receipts relating to the repairs – try to get several quotes beforehand and keep those, too.
6. Apply for a fast claim first, if your local authority has that system in place.
7. At this point you could be offered full repair costs, partial costs or be turned down under section 58 of the Highways Act. If the latter happens, you can still pursue it via a full claims process, which is a little more complex and may require you to submit for a Freedom of Information request to see if the local authority undertakes inspections regularly and to see its repair log.
8. If the authority makes you an offer, be prepared to negotiate because you might be able to claim for additional travel expenses or the inconvenience caused. Again – keep any receipts that you accumulate.
9. If your claim is rejected, you might want to pursue it through the small claims court or get legal advice. However, this becomes costly and time consuming.
Have you claimed compensation for hitting a pothole? Let us know via our Facebook page Facebook.com/Motors.co.uk