Britain’s roads suffer from potholes. The craters are dangerous for our cars and litter the roads with millions of them.

An increase of 200k was achieved when 1.7million potholes were fixed last year.

With winter approaching, there will be more. However, if one does happen, will it be a case of bad luck or can the company refund your costs for repairs?

Danger: Around 1.7 million potholes were repaired last year, an increase of 200,000 and with winter weather coming, more are sure to appear

There is danger: Last year there were 1.7 million repaired potholes, up by 200,000. With winter approaching, even more will be made.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged an extra £5billion towards local road maintenance in his Budget last month.

However, campaigners fear that it is not enough. In fact, the Local Government Association has warned that 10 million potholes may remain unfilled.

Around £2.6million in compensation was paid to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in England and Wales for potholes in the 12 months to March, according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance. In three months, the RAC was called for 1,361 pothole-related breakdowns.

However, as much as 99% of claims are rejected by the councils, damages payouts are not guaranteed. Some motorists may have to take legal action.

Postcode  lottery

The authority in charge of a road could face liability if they fail to act promptly after being warned about the pothole.

Highways England and Traffic Scotland are responsible for major roads and motorways maintenance, while the Welsh Government and local authorities take care of minor residential areas.

Here are some tips for getting compensation 

  1. Potholes can be reported as soon as you spot them to local authorities or the council.
  2. The damage to the area and the location of the pothole should be photographed. A shoe or other object can be placed next to the pothole to show its depth.
  3. To ensure that you don’t pay too much for repairs, get several quotes. You should keep all receipts, as well any damage reports.
  4. You should include any claims that you may have for additional costs, like public transport fare when your vehicle is not available. Receipts are required.
  5. In the event that your application gets rejected, consider going to a small claims court. To avoid any additional expenses, check to see if your application was rejected.

Drivers may report damage to their road or council directly, or via a website like A motorist can make a claim against the authority for damages to their vehicle.

However, motorists have to contend with a “postcode lottery”, where some councils reject claims. Fife Council boasts one of its worst payout records. Only four out of 367 claims were won by claimants in 2020.

Only 17 of 847 Gloucestershire County Council cases were ever paid out in 2020. Motorists might have to file a case with a small claims court in order to be compensated.

Scott Dixon is a specialist in motoring disputes. He says that more drivers are assertive but there can also be a lottery of postcodes with large payouts. 

“Many municipalities reject claims because they believe that drivers won’t have the motivation or time to file small claims.

You can also file a claim against cyclists for damage to their bikes. Members can get free advice from organizations such as Cycling UK and the London Cycling Campaign regarding personal injury claims.

Keep in mind that a law firm hired by you will require a portion of your compensation if it is a non-profit, free-of-charge legal practice.

Dig for facts

A council’s most frequent excuse for rejecting pothole claims is the fact that it didn’t exist. 

The Highways Act 1980 Section 58 requires that councils act promptly to repair any potholes they have flagged.

The majority of councils won’t repair potholes greater than 40mm.

It may be worthwhile to file a claim, as many councils will pursue legal action when a hole poses a danger to the public. 

Lack of funds: The Local Government Association warned that 10 million potholes could remain unfilled

Insufficient funds: According to the Local Government Association, 10,000,000 potholes may remain unfilled.

The length of time it takes for the council to repair the hole will depend on the traffic and depth of the crater.

In general, potholes that are located on roads with a high traffic count must be filled within seven days. For smaller holes and on streets and routes with less traffic, it may not be necessary to fix them for 6 months.

The council could throw out your claim if it can show that they did not have a report or knew of the damage.

However, this could be false. If you want to disprove a claim, all major road defect reports for the five most recent years can be requested by filing a Freedom of Information request (FOI), to the local authority. can also be used to check if someone else reported the same pothole. Every month, busy roads are inspected by councils. Once a year quieter routes will be inspected. 

Request a FOI request to obtain road records for the last five years in order to find out whether inspections have been completed or if the hole has already been identified.

Google Maps is another option for drivers to locate a street-view image of the road. They are usually years old. 

A timestamp will appear at the top-left corner of the screen. It shows when the image was taken.

Mark Morrell, a campaigner known as Mr. Pothole, said: “If the Google Street View image of the pothole shows that it is visible and the timestamp date before the last inspection, it could be shown that it should have been picked up by the council before it happened.”

Keep fighting 

Even if the council agrees to cover it, they may still try to avoid paying full price.

Stuart Mitchell, 57, was offered just £225 towards the £389 cost of repairing his Ford Fiesta after he hit a pothole on his way to work in December last year. 

The car suffered damage to its exhaust and front left tire from the crater. Lincolnshire County Council argued that it shouldn’t have to cover the entire bill, as the car was only 19 years old.

So Stuart paid £140 to take his case to the small claims court. And, in September, a judge ruled in his favour, ordering the council to pay him £645, including the full repair bill, court fee and £116 towards travel expenses while he could not use his car.

Stuart (57) says that it was a relief after months of waiting, but frustrating to see councils ripping off taxpayers and motorists because they do not expect to be challenged.

Lincolnshire County Council accepted the claim and acknowledged payment.

A Government spokesman says: ‘The Government is investing over £5 billion in roads maintenance over this Parliament — enough to fill in millions of potholes a year, repair dozens of bridges, and help resurface roads up and down the country.’

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