This is the time of year when potholes become a real hazard for motorists and can cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to vehicles, especially tyres
If your car or van is damaged by a pothole, there is a possibility you could claim compensation.
Potholes are increasingly emerging at this time of year, due to the freeze-thaw cylce which causes them. Potholes are formed by water penetrating the asphalt surface of a road through cracks caused by traffic; when temperatures plummet, the water freezes, expands and causes the surface to rupture, thus creating a gaping hole.
They can then lead to burst tyres, buckled alloy wheels and damaged suspension systems. All of these problems and any other damage sustained, can cost hundreds, even thousands of pounds to rectify.
However, it is possible to claim compensation for pothole damaged tyres by following these steps:
As long as it is safe to do so, take photos of the pothole. Close up shots and pictures illustrating its position in the road are very useful. If it’s not possible to do this for safety reasons, still try to photograph the pothole from afar.
Measure the size of the pothole. Use a pencil or tool which can be measured precisely later or a shoe to give an idea of scale if you don’t have a ruler.
Make a sketch of the area, showing the location of the pothole. This is especially necessary if there is more than one pothole in the road. This allows you to pinpoint the pothole you are claiming against.
Record a general description of the area, for example, the width of the road, are there any streetlights, is there a cycle/bus lane, is it a main road, what type of traffic uses the road?
Report the pothole
Don’t overlook this step in your attempt to claim compensation for pothole damaged tyres. It is a way of officially recording the pothole, plus you are fulfilling a civic duty, which could help other motorists avoid suffering the the same fate if the pothole is repaired swiftly in response to your report.
Furthermore, if your claim progresses to court, this will highlight how seriously you took the initial incident. It also demonstrates that you were keen to protect the safety of others. Both of these will count in your favour.
Obtain estimates for the cost of the repairs to your vehicle, whether that is a quote for a new tyre or alloy wheel or a more substantial work, which will need to be carried out in a garage. Get more than one estimate to add credibility to your claim Before you settle on a garage. It is advisable to get several quotes for repair work or replacements. If you have to go ahead and get the work carried out immediately, keep your quotes and receipts. If you’re not paying over the odds for fixing your car, you’re more likely to get that money back.
File a claim
Firstly you will need to complain to the authority responsible for the potholed road. In most cases, this will be the local county council. However, it could be the Highways Agency if the damage occurred on a motorway or A road.
Many councils allow you to file your report and make your claim on their website. If in any doubt contact your local county council for advice.
As well as the time, date and place the incident occurred, you will also have to include the evidence you have gathered to support your claim. This will include your photos, measurements, sketches, etc, along with quotes to repair the damage your vehicle sustained.
What happens next?
After you claim compensation for pothole damaged tyres the onus is on the highways authority responsible for the road where the pothole formed to investigate and review the complaint and assess their liability.
It is pretty standard to receive an initial letter swiftly rejecting your claim. It may well cite Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, which states that the council isn’t liable for damage if it has taken reasonable measures to ensure road problems, such as potholes, are found and fixed quickly.
All claims are decided on an individual basis and the time taken to complete each complaint depends on the type and complexity of the case.