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What to do if your car is damaged by a pothole

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

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but my daily drive to work currently feels like I’ve signed up to an “off-roading” driving experience, due to the sheer volume of potholes and defects which appear to have developed within a matter of weeks along my usual routes.

The wet, cold and frosty weather that we experience over winter means that surface water permeates through to the sub-layers, underneath the top layer of tarmac. The fluctuating temperatures means that the water which has settled underneath expands and contracts, damaging the top surface from underneath. This, combined with the daily weight of traffic, causes deterioration to the surface and holes in the roads.

Roads are not to be considered permanent features. They do require regular maintenance and upkeep to keep them safe and hazard-free, and councils are duty bound to have a programme in place to carry out regular inspections, identify any defects, and respond to complaints from the public. This programme will include both scheduled repairs, and also fast response repairs, once a defect has been identified as being dangerous or potentially dangerous.

Some councils are taking this issue very seriously. Cambridgeshire County Council have invested in a tidy piece of kit called a Dragon Patcher. (It’s a vehicle, before any Game of Thrones fans get too excited). This machine can repair up to 150 potholes a day, taking around three minutes to do each one. The “dragon” element of the vehicle, expels flames to dry out the road surface completely. The area is then cleaned with compressed air and a stone mix and hot bitumen is applied to seal and repair the surface. This means that they can repair more defects, more quickly, as opposed to traditional methods. Whilst Cambridgeshire County Council have made the decision to spend a significant amount of money on repairing the infrastructure of their roads, not all councils have the budget to do this.

So, what happens if annoyingly you hit a pothole with your car and it causes damage? Firstly get it to a garage, and if you intend to make a claim, ask the garage to provide a written report, detailing the damage. If you can, identify whereabouts the damage occurred and if safe to do so, take photographs of the offending defect, with measurements. Report the defect to the council, and also to your insurer – it’s always good to do this by email, so that you have your complaint on record. Evidence is key in claims of this type – the more evidence that you have to support your claim that the road is dangerous, then the more likely you are to get a successful conclusion.

If you find that you are not getting anywhere with the council directly, then our solicitors are able handle the claim for you. If you wish to speak to a member of our expert team please call us on 01616 966 229.