The U.K. Winter seem to be changing. Instead of calm, dry, white days and nights, strong winds and heavy storms are the new normal. This wilder weather brings with it numerous problems for people of all walks of life.
This is being found to be true when it comes to the state of the roads. Almost every county has seen a marked rise in the number of potholes, and compensation claims for the damage caused have risen with them.
In 2016, the Local Government Association claimed that it would take 14 years to clear the backlog of potholes on Britain’s roads. This is despite filling in almost 2 million a year at that time. A pledge was made to assign £6 billion to fix the problem by next year, but it seems likely now that this figure will not be met.
The storms early in 2020 have skyrocketed the number of potholes appearing on our roads. The worst affected area is apparently Bath with a 346% rise on last year. Collectively, councils have paid out around £3 million per year with Surrey being the hub of payouts. They received 3,522 claims from 1st January to 17th October 2019, and paid out around a third of a million pounds.
What counts as a pothole?
Many councils define a pothole as being at least a 40mm deep drop in road surface. They are caused by a process sometimes known as freeze-thaw. Water or other moisture seeps into cracks into the roads surface and when they freeze, they expand. This process repeats over many times until the road surface fractures from the stress and breaks apart. This can leave small holes or, as many of us will have seen, large craters which can be a hazard to not only a car’s integrity but also human life depending on the circumstances.
So how can I claim for the damage?
Before you try to send off a claim, you need one essential thing; proof. You’ll want to give yourself the best chance of getting a positive outcome. Firstly, show that there is evidence of a pothole (unless on a motorway as you are prohibited from doing so). This would likely be in the form of photos that show the position and size of the pothole. This will demonstrate the potential severity of the hole, how hard it is to see beforehand, how hard it is to avoid, etc. Then provide evidence of the damage to your car. Once again photos are useful for this. Lastly, you’re going to want to get expressed agreement from a mechanic that it was a pothole that caused damage to your car in writing.
The government website itself asks you to try to get the following information:
- what the damage was
- why you think the claimee is responsible
- the location where the damage took place – the road name and the nearest marker post number or feature which identifies the part of the road you were on
- the date and time the damage was caused
If you follow all of this, you could get the money due to you for the poor upkeep of the roads. In doing so, you are not only getting justice for yourself. You alert the council to problem areas and therefore make the roads safer for everyone.