Scrivenger Seabrook Solicitors’ Director of Personal Injury Marc Folgate takes a look at a burning issue of our times.
“I was invited on to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire recently to discuss the vexed issue of potholes. A week later my daughter’s car failed its MOT due to a snapped suspension coil spring. I recalled being asked what I would do if I had suffered damage to my car as a result.
“Grin and bear it” I had replied. I grinned and bore it. As did the owner of the next car in the bay, having the very same replacement undertaken.
It is all very well having to fork out a few hundred pounds as a result of some relatively minor damage but what if the pothole had caused a serious injury? Because they do. Imagine a racing cycle’s tyres confronting a 15 centimetre deep and 30 centimetre wide pothole…
Motorists swerving to avoid them and ended up losing control and confronting ongoing traffic even.
The problem is that these claims are difficult to pursue. There are certain actions as a lawyer that you can take to maximise the chances of success but the law gives local authorities a substantial advantage here. It provides them with a “statutory defence”. In essence, if a local authority is able to show a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance to have been in place and to have been effective then a pothole mishap may be consigned to those category of injuries for which no compensation is payable. Pure accidents, for which no body can be held to blame.
Advice if you are involved in an accident in these circumstances:- Take photographs with measurements visible, and details of any witnesses; especially those who may be able to assist as to how long the pothole had been in the dangerous condition. If a passer-by remarks “It’s been like that for ages” or “I have reported it to the Council and they’ve done nothing about it” make sure contact details for this witness are obtained. It could make all the difference. Then seek early legal advice before doing anything further.
A modern day curse, eh?”