What are your rights if your car is hit by a pothole – and does the municipality pay? Traffic rules explained

Potholes can cause all sorts of chaos for drivers.

But who is liable for the damage they cause to cars?

Motorists can take action if their vehicle is damaged by a pothole


Motorists can take action if their vehicle is damaged by a potholeCredit: Alamy

Cars can often be left scratched and damaged because of bad roads – and now experts have revealed who is paying for it.

Expert Liam Waine, partner in the dispute resolution team at the leading law firm of Stephenson’ssaid it largely depends on who is responsible for maintaining the road.

He told The Sun Online: “In general in England, Scotland and Wales, local roads, B roads and minor A roads are the responsibility of local councils.

“Motorways, trunk roads and major A roads are the responsibility of Highways England.

“In Greater London, roads listed as red routes are the responsibility of Transport for London.

“Motorways and A-roads in Scotland are the responsibility of Traffic Scotland and in Northern Ireland all roads are the responsibility of Dfl Roads.”

Anyone wishing to make a claim would need to show that the competent authority failed to keep the roads safe under the Highways Act 1980 and other local government or Highways England road maintenance guidelines.

Mr Waine said: “The driver will attempt to argue that the relevant authority negligently failed to adopt or follow the legal requirements and/or its own rules or guidelines.”

In any case, the driver not only has to prove the amount of damage caused, but also that the damage was caused by a pothole.

To do this, Mr. Waine advises that motorists take their vehicle to a repair shop as soon as possible and asks them to provide a written report detailing the damage and identifying the cause.

He added: “Once this is safe, drivers should try to get evidence of the pothole by taking photos and measurements and the details of the road in question.”

Any complaint lodged with a local authority could be rejected by them, but this is not necessarily the end of the matter as further action is possible.

Mr Waine said: “Where a complaint with a public authority results in a claim being denied, a driver may wish to make an information request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to the relevant authority to collect all evidence and records relating to the maintenance of the person to obtain street in question.

“This can result in a claim being successful where disclosure of information can demonstrate that the agency does not have an adequate maintenance record confirming that it has complied with legal obligations and its own policies.”

It is probably much easier to take action against a one-off incident than making a claim for wear and tear over an extended period of time caused by repeated driving over an unrepaired pothole.

Mr. Waine explained that while this is not impossible, the situation is far more complicated.

He said: “There could be an argument that a driver who is aware of a particular pothole that has not been repaired is ‘carrying on the road’ for not avoiding it if it can be shown that it was safe to do so. “

“Again this will be a question of evidence and each case will depend on its own facts.”

The problem of potholes in roads is a growing problem, not only for motorists but also for cyclists, with the cost of repairing the damage often running into hundreds of pounds.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet told The Sun Online: “Low levels of satisfaction among local residents show how irritated they are with the state of repairs on their local roads and the time it takes to fix the potholes.

“The councils are under enormous financial pressure, that is clear. But roads that are safe, don’t damage vehicles and waste community money on compensation claims and administration and don’t send people to the hospital or worse need to be a higher priority for local government spending.”

Recently Public satisfaction figures from 50 councils found that only 28 per cent of residents are satisfied with the speed of repairing potholes and other damage on roads in England.

It also revealed that only 32 percent are satisfied with the condition of their road surfaces and 34 percent are satisfied with the quality of repairing damaged roads – when finished.

Overall, only 22 percent state that the number of potholes on their local roads can be described as satisfactory on average.

Unfortunately, the plague of potholes can cause bigger problems than just damaging a car or bike.

In some cases, it can be the cause of death in road traffic.

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Cyclist Jennifer Ann Dyer, 36, died after being ‘catapulted’ from her bike when it hit a pothole.

East Sussex Deputy Medical Examiner James Healy-Pratt completed in his report at the end of his investigation on May 12, 2022: “This young lady and mother died in a collision between her bicycle and a van. This collision was caused solely and directly by a defective pothole,” he added, adding that her death was “avoidable.”

Damage to cars caused by a pothole can cost hundreds of pounds


Damage to cars caused by a pothole can cost hundreds of poundsCredit: Alamy

https://www.thesun.ie/motors/9971984/potholes-roads-motorists-rights-legal-action-councils/ What are your rights if your car is hit by a pothole – and does the municipality pay? Traffic rules explained

Fry Electronics Team

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