Guide to getting to grips with potholes, tyres and claims

Guide to getting to grips with potholes, tyres and claims

25 Nov

By Tom Boote

You don’t have to be a driving expert to have noticed that our road network seems to be in a terrible state. The number of drivers suffering damage caused because of the condition of a road is on the increase. No matter whee you live in the UK, there’s problems with the roads. This article provides a guide to claiming for damage caused to your vehicle by potholes. It should help you get financial compensation to help repair your vehicle, or replace your tyres.

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A Continental premium tyre is tough and dependable, but even this example of German engineering is not immume to ever deteriorating road conditions – especially when it comes to potholes. Externally, it can look as if a tyre has survived the initial impact from a pothole, but be warned; damage can show up later when further stresses have been placed on it. Often, harm to the internal structure of a tyre will appear as a bulge within the sidewall. If you should happen to notice this after hitting a pothole, best practice is to replace it as soon as possible. But, as potholes are the responsibility of the local authority, how should you go about claiming for this damage?

1. Take photographs and notes

The first thing you need to undertake after suffering a pothole impact is make a record of the location, including and road name or number. Be as accurate as possible. You should also note the direction you were travelling in, where the pothole is located, its size and depth and, if possible, obtain the contact information of any witnesses available. Caution though; when on the road, be extra careful to ensure that it is safe to take photographs. You don’t want to risk being hit be a fellow motorist, right? It is also useful to add an object – such as a drinks bottle – into the picture, to help with scale to show how big the pothole is.

2. Report the pothole

All potholes should be reported, even if you don’t intend to make a claim for damages. The authority in charge of the road should be made aware of the problem as soon as possible, so that it can assign repairs at the earliest moment. Major roads are managed by the Highways England, while county, city or borough councils are responsible for repairs and maintenance of other routes.

3. Carry out repairs

Caring for and maintaining the condition of your vehicle is very important. It needs to be kept  roadworthy. When it comes to repairs, keep any and all quotes, invoices and receipts for the work that has been carried out, and create a duplicate set of everything as you will need to provide this to the authorities when submitting your claim. If the damage is more severe than simply a broken alloy or damaged tyre, you should also get in touch with your insurer and report the damage to them.

4. Make your claim in writing

Claims to the relevant authority should be made in writing. We suggest you send all documents by a service that requires a signature upon delivery, so that you can confirm proof of posting and receipt). You must provide a clear and detailed account of the event that damaged your vehicle, including what happened, where and when it occurred, and the costs of repairing the damage. Be aware that your claim stands a higher chance of being accepted if the authority in question was already aware of the pothole but had not fixed it. See section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 – or if road maintenance guidelines have not been followed.

5. Dealing with rejection

Sometimes the authority responsible for the road you incurred damage on will reject your claim. If this happens, try to stay calm. Consider putting in a request under the Freedom of Information Act to find out how frequently the road that damaged your car is inspected and maintained. There is a good chance that it might not satisfy the nationally recommended standards for highway maintenance.

6. Negotiate

It’s worth negotiating with the authority in charge of the maintenance of the road, rather than going to court. This is beneficial to you and them, as, where possible, all parties should avoid the courts due to the increased costs involved if you should lose. 

7. Use the small claims court

This should only be used as a last resort. If you feel that the authority in charge of the road has failed to abide by national guidelines on road maintenance – and you believe you have a case – you should consider making a small claims case. Again, be aware, though, that losing such a legal battle could bring severe financial penalties – higher than the costs of repairs to your vehicle.
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