Potholes can be a motorist's worst nightmare. Even the sound of driving over one is enough to merit a short intake of breath - oh no, the car! With the government's recent proposal to spend £6 billion on repairing potholes, this issue has once again entered the limelight. But what should motorists do if a pothole damaged their vehicle or caused a personal injury?
Before we delve further into this issue, it's important to note that it's notoriously difficult to claim for vehicle damage or personal injury caused by potholes. If it were easy, there would be barely any state money left to repair the roads and resolve the issue.
However, there are instances in which a person will receive compensation. Read on for our guide about how you can successfully claim.
In order to support a claim, it is essential to gather the correct evidence. This could include photographs of the pothole (where it is safe to take photos), photographs of the damage caused to the vehicle and, if possible, accurate measurements of the pothole.
If the vehicle has undergone repairs as a result of the damage, it would be useful to retain a copy of the garage report indicating the cost of the repairs.
Freedom of Information Request
Write a letter to the local council, requesting information about how frequently the particular road - where the pothole was found - is inspected and maintained. This information could be important for your claim. According to s.58 of the Highways Act 1980, the highway authority will be able to successfully defend the claim, if they have taken reasonable care of the roads, so you may be out of luck.
Provided that the highway authority failed to take adequate care of the roads, it could be possible to make a road compensation claim. Send all the evidence you've collected to the local council, including the location of the pothole, details of the vehicle damage, and any specific personal injury information - be as specific as possible.
Is It Enough?
Although the government has decided to invest in road maintenance, the £6 billion promised may not be a sufficient amount to cover all of the potholes on Britain's roads. The Asphalt Industry Alliance estimates that it would require £10 billion to clear England and Wales of pesky potholes. If this sum is correct then, coupled with more freezing winters, the advice set out above is more applicable now than ever before.
Councils need skilled workers to make cost-effective and meaningful changes to the state of British roads. Unfortunately, due to the recession, road management companies' budgets have been slashed and local highway agencies have been downsized.
With such thorough service cuts, it's unlikely that the £6 billion offered by the government is going to sufficiently plug-up our country's pothole problem. Especially when many teams contain undertrained staff. Some of the skills employees will need to master, in order to make road maintenance more efficient, are: strategic asset management, modern procurement methods, collaborative working, lean methodology, and networking.
In layman's terms this means: using resources effectively to justify the investment; minimising waste (but maximising the value of the work); identifying ways to improve performance; and working collaboratively with other organisations.
As you can see, this is a tricky balancing act. Can the government pull it off? We'll just have to wait and see.