Pothole Damage Claim - As a motorist in the UK, it is very likely that at some point you are going to hit a pothole and that you will suffer damage to your vehicle.
According to a recent study by the AA (Automobile Association), in 2012 a third of all drivers suffered pothole damage to their vehicles with a cost of repairs to tax payers in the region of £700 million every year.
Whilst pothole claims are generally on the increase, there are a few things you need to consider before chasing down the legal route and seeking compensation from your local authority.
Here are our five tips when considering making a claim for pothole damage.
1. Safety First
Always, always, be safe.
If you have been unfortunate enough to hit a pothole whilst driving, first things first, keep safety as your number one priority. Find somewhere safe to pull over and assess the damage.
Statistically it is likely to be wheel or tyre damage and only on very rare occasions tracking, alignment or steering issues can arise as a result of hitting a pothole.
Get accurate details.
Ensure you collect as much information as you can; time, conditions, traffic levels, weather and providing it’s safe to do so, include photographs of the pothole. Remember to try and include information about the location of the pothole so if you can, ensure your photos combine the pothole relative to the surrounding area for scale. (Remember all potholes look the same if photographed directly from above).
Another great tip is to make a quick sketch of the area pinpointing the position of the pothole showing your relative direction of travel.
Do your homework.
Before you are ready to submit a claim, ensure you consider the facts. Whilst a lot of councils accept that pothole damage is inevitable, it is still a fairly long and somewhat complicated process to successfully submit a claim for damage.
According to the RAC (Royal Automobile Club), of the 46,139 claims submitted in 2015, the majority of all claims were rejected with less than a quarter resulting in a pay-out.
Depending in the level of damage, as a first port of call, you may want to discuss the incident with your insurer. They are the professionals and will very often have a lot more experience in dealing with these matters. However in most cases the cost of repair is relatively low and unless your policy specifically covers pothole damage, the cost of excess and impact on your no claims bonus would outweigh the repair itself.
4. Making your claim
You are going to need to write to your local authority and clearly explain exactly what happened. This needs to be as accurate as possible and should include your previously mentioned evidence.
The authorities response will typically include specific details about their respective maintenance regimes including measures as to how potholes are identified and dealt with effectively.
Remember you can only claim for costs relating directly to the damage caused by the pothole. (Any additional costs are unlikely to be considered).
Providing your claim is strong enough to be successful and evidences that the authority haven't, 'reasonably' identified and dealt with the pothole in question, you will be awarded compensation likely to be in the region of £300. This is the average value of compensation paid out by local authorities in the last few years.
Unfortunately the pothole problem has escalated significantly in the last few years and making a claim is not straightforward, nor are you guaranteed in being awarded compensation.
Fortunately the authorities are finally starting to re-invest and pledge larger sums of money to tackle the problem and are also starting to consider the use of technology and other non-traditional longer lasting repair methods such as the use of infra-red.
We can all play a part in helping solve this problem. Local authorities rely on information from the general public, so remember, if you see a pothole, don’t ignore it, report it. Go to your local council website, or if you dont know who to report to, search the Directgov website and find the appropriate local authority using your postcode.
Alternatively there are a number of other independent websites and resources out there all aimed at helping you report potholes to the correct responsible authority.
Renoo.co.uk are a national one-stop, pothole repair shop and specialise in providing long-lasting, cost-effective solutions to pothole damage.