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The Bumpy Road Ahead: Understanding Personal Injury Claims Due to Pothole Accidents in the UK

Potholes can wreak havoc on vehicles and, more alarmingly, pose a serious risk to pedestrians and cyclists. Could you claim compensation through a personal injury claim?

In recent times we have been inundated with news articles, social media posts, community action and memes about the state of the nation’s roads. A recent BBC article highlighted that councils were expected to fix 2 billion potholes in the last financial year, up 43% on the previous year. According to RAC statistics, their patrols attended nearly 30,000 pothole-related breakdowns in 2023, an increase of 33% compared to the previous year.

In the UK, where roads face constant wear and tear due to weather and heavy traffic, potholes are a common sight. However, when negligence or breach of duty leads to accidents caused by these road craters, victims have the right to seek compensation through personal injury claims.


Why are there so many potholes?

Potholes are formed primarily due to the expansion and contraction of groundwater beneath the pavement, exacerbated by the freeze-thaw cycle in colder climates. Over time, the constant pressure weakens the road surface, resulting in cracks and, eventually, potholes. While road maintenance authorities have a duty to inspect and repair roads regularly, many potholes go unnoticed or unrepaired, posing a danger to road users.


What is the impact on road users?

For motorists, encountering a pothole can lead to a range of issues, from minor vehicle damage like punctured tyres and bent rims to more severe consequences such as loss of control and accidents. However, the risks extend beyond drivers. Pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable, as a fall or collision caused by a pothole can result in serious injuries like fractures, sprains, and head trauma. In the worst cases, these accidents can even be fatal.

Sarah Sadler, Head of Personal Injury comments “We are seeing an increase in Personal Injury claims as a direct result of potholes. Claims range from pedestrians who have tripped over a pothole and sustained a severe injury to cyclists who have lost control".

A former triathlete was in the news recently because he suffered severe injuries when he crashed his road bike as a result of hitting a pothole. He is now launching a personal injury claim against the local authority for compensation.


How do you seek compensation?

When someone suffers an injury due to a pothole accident, they may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury claim. To pursue such a claim successfully, certain criteria must be met. Firstly, the injured party must prove that the responsible authority, typically the local council or highways agency, was negligent or breached their statutory duty in keeping the highway (which includes footpaths) safe in so far as is reasonably practicable. This negligence or breach of duty could involve failing to inspect the road regularly, ignoring reports of potholes, or delaying repairs despite being aware of the hazard.

Additionally, the claimant must demonstrate that the pothole directly caused their injuries and resulting damages, such as medical expenses, loss of income due to inability to work, and pain and suffering. Gathering evidence is crucial in substantiating the claim, including photographs or videos of the pothole, medical records documenting injuries, witness statements, and correspondence with the responsible authority regarding the road's condition.


Navigating the Legal Process

Navigating the legal process of a personal injury claim can be complex, requiring knowledge of relevant laws and procedures. Therefore, seeking legal representation from a solicitor experienced in handling such cases is advisable. A competent solicitor can guide the claimant through each step, from initiating the claim and negotiating with the responsible authority's insurers to representing them in court if necessary.

Potholes can have significant consequences for unsuspecting road users. From vehicle damage to serious injuries, accidents caused by potholes can disrupt lives and incur financial burdens. However, victims need not bear these burdens alone. By understanding their rights and seeking legal recourse through a personal injury claim, individuals injured due to pothole accidents in the UK can pursue the compensation they deserve, while also holding negligent authorities or those who have breached their duty, accountable for maintaining safe roadways.


If you’d like to speak to our Personal Injury experts about a possible claim, you can email, visit us in person at our Accident Claim Centre in Chesterfield (Mon – Fri, 9am to 5pm) or call 0344 649 6642.

Sarah Sadler
  • Chartered Legal Executive
  • Head of Personal Injury

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