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Even at low speed, a pothole can cause damage to a car’s tyres, wheels and steering alignment, but the even greater problem is that the damage is often not significant enough to warrant an insurance claim meaning you are left out of pocket. At high speed, a deep pothole can cause severe damage to a car and can be potentially life threatening should you lose control of your vehicle on impact.
If you hit a pothole, stop and check your wheels and tyres as soon as it is safe to do so. If you notice a vibration or the steering wheel doesn’t ‘centre’ properly or pulls to one side, get the car checked at a garage or tyre specialist as soon as possible as tracking or steering damage can cause further expense later down the line.
Can I make a claim?
Claiming compensation for pothole damage depends largely on whether or not the pothole has already been reported. The Highway Authority do have a statutory defence meaning they cannot be held liable for a defect if they do not know about it, either because it has not been reported to them or it has not been picked up in their own road condition surveys. However, if it turns out that the local authority knew about the pothole but hasn’t repaired it, or they haven’t followed road maintenance guidelines, you should be able to claim.
How to report a pothole
Whether you intend to make a claim or not for any damage to your car, your main priority should be to report the defect as quickly as possible to your local Highway Authority to prevent further incidents and also so they can start to undertake repairs to the section of road. Most local council websites will give contact details for your local Highway Agency and may even include an online defect reporting form or special contact number. You can find contact details for your local authority on the gov.uk website.
Take notes at the scene
Before you leave the scene, it’s a good idea to make some notes or draw a sketch detailing the location of the pothole. You can include some or all of the following:
If it is safe to do so take photographs of the defect too. Both general pictures showing the location of the defect and close-ups showing its size will be useful. You can even use an object such as a drinks bottle to help illustrate the size of the pothole.
Making a claim
If you decide to make a claim, you must write to the Council responsible for the road and include all the details of the defect such as the damage to your car and the cost of the repairs required/carried out. If you are getting repairs done, it is a good idea to get several quotes first for the work. If your claim is rejected and you feel this is unfair you can ask to see details of the Council’s road inspection reports, and try again to claim. If the damage is very expensive, contact your insurance company or seek legal advice.