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Potholes - are we taking potluck on our roads

View profile for Pauline Smith
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What to do if your car is damaged by a pothole

The UK weather doesn’t seem to be able to make its mind up, does it? Last weekend – the end of February - was reminiscent of a late spring day, with the sun beating down on the majority of the country.  Quite a different picture from just a couple of weeks earlier when people were clearing frost from their windscreens and the home workers were cranking their heating thermostat up a few degrees more.

But therein lies the problem.  The weather IS unpredictable in the UK, and can go from mild and sunny to arctic like conditions in the space of a few days.  This type of weather is ideal for creating potholes in our roads, and our tarmacked pavements.  Have you noticed that on normally flat straight roads, you are now negotiating huge indentations and cracks in the tarmac, when driving or cycling? 

Yes, it’s late winter, and this is when potholes form.

They are caused due to water seeping underneath the surface material, such as tarmac, through small cracks in the surface.  That water then lies underneath, and when the frosty weather comes along, forms into ice blocks which then melt, re-freeze in the next cold snap, and melt again.  This continual process causes weakening of the surface material which starts to crumble away as vehicles use the road, and your pothole is formed.

What if your car or cycle is damaged as a result of driving into a pothole?  Car repairs can be costly, and you might not want to report the damage to your insurance company – after all, you don’t have another driver to claim against.  Whilst any substantial damage should be reported to your insurers, you should get an estimate for the repairs, find out who is responsible for the road and contact the appropriate local authority.  Take good photographs of the damage and send the photographs, and a quote for repairs to your local authority, getting a reference number if possible.  They should be able to assist you with compensating you for the repairs to your vehicle, or cycle.

Potholes on motorways or busy A roads should be notified to Highways England – who have a dedicated helpline for this very purpose.  Most local council websites have a specific pothole reporting section – this is your first port of call.

But it isn’t just vehicle or cycle damage.  People have been known to swerve whilst cycling or driving, to avoid damaging their cars – this can lead to increased road traffic accidents.  Has this ever happened to you?  What about pedestrians?  If you need to cross the road, and there are no designated crossings nearby, then the chances are that you will be looking out for vehicles approaching as you cross, and not at the road surface.  Stephensons have successfully claimed compensation for many people who have tripped and fallen as a result of potholes and defects in the surface of a road or pavement.

It is becoming more and more common for local authorities to dispense with individual paving stones, when carrying out repairs or resurfacing work on pavements, and seem to be moving towards laying tarmac style pavement surfaces. Again, this type of surface is very prone to sinking or breaking up due to adverse weather conditions, and can cause significant tripping hazards.

If you have been injured as a result of tripping or falling in a pothole, or if you have been injured in road traffic collision with another vehicle, then our specialist personal injury team are on hand to guide you through the process of making a claim, call us on 0161 696 6235 or complete our online enquiry form.

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