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How to claim for pothole damage

Damaged your car by driving into a pothole? You might be able to claim compensation from your local authority. Here’s how.

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More and more drivers are suffering at the hands of potholes and poorly maintained roads. Thousands of cars and vans are damaged every week – victims of holes, craters and broken tarmac, with tyres, wheels and suspension broken or destroyed completely  as a result.

A new report has shown that drivers are facing an increased risk of damage from potholes while a recent survey showed that millions of motorists were demanding that a proportion of their car tax (VED) be set aside specifically for road repairs.

The latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey has estimated that more than £14 billion is now needed to fix potholes and restore the country’s roads to an acceptable standard.

It says that around 18% of local roads (37,000 miles) were judged to be in poor condition and would become undriveable within the next five years. A further 100,000 miles of local road will need to be rebuilt in the next 15 years, it found.

And the recent survey, from repair group KwikFit, revealed that nearly half (47%) of the drivers it questioned said that a portion of the money the government raises through VED should be ring-fenced for improving road surfaces.

Now road recovery company GEM has published a list of safety advice for motorists, along with helpful advice designed to assist drivers claim for compensation for their broken cars.

“We want to help drivers stay safe on their road journeys, as well as reducing the risk of causing damage to their cars,” says GEM chief executive Neil Worth. “Potholes have a significant financial impact on motorists, who most of the time must bear the cost of repairs to paintwork, suspension and tyres – even though they have already paid for local road maintenance through their council tax.

“And drivers who can’t afford these repairs risk making journeys in vehicles that are potentially unsafe.”

Pothole ahead – staying safe on the road

  1. Always be aware of dangerous potholes on your regular journeys. If necessary, find an alternative route.
  2. Keep your distance from the car in front. Motorists will often brake or swerve suddenly if they have spotted a pothole too late, so ensure you are far enough away to slow down safely.
  3. Stick to the speed limit, and slow down on smaller roads and residential streets where potholes may be prevalent. Hitting a pothole at speed will cause much more damage to your vehicle.
  4. Never swerve to avoid a pothole; always slow down or stop completely if necessary, checking that there are no cars close behind you. Drive over the pothole slowly or manoeuvre around it if it’s safe to do so.

Report it

  1. Help your local authority and report any dangerous potholes that are causing problems in the area.
  2. Your local council website will guide you to the right procedure for reporting a pothole.
  3. Main roads are the responsibility of national agencies such as National Highways. Go to www.gov.uk/report-pothole or call them on 0300 123 5000. This number is available 24 hours a day. 

Claim for it

  1. If you believe you have a valid claim for pothole damage, make sure you are able to give the exact location of the offending pothole.
  2. Note when you went through it, what direction you were travelling and approximately how wide and deep you believe it to have been.
  3. If it’s safe, stop and examine the pothole. Take photographs if you can, but don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk in the process.
  4. Obtain quotes for any repairs that may be required. Keep copies of these, along with receipts and invoices, if they form part of your claim.
  5. Write to the local authority, including all the details and requesting a settlement of your claim.
  6. Expect a rejection, as the local authority will most likely explain that it has a system of regular inspection and repair. But you can check what the council may be liable for, and take steps to make sure they are carrying out the system they claim to have.
  7. If you feel your case is strong enough, it may be worth getting legal advice or taking your case to the small claims court. But be aware that it could end up being a lengthy and costly process.

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.