A common frustration for any road user is potholes. Whilst they might be annoying for a car driver, they can result in broken bikes or injuries for cyclists. If you have been injured by a pothole (or any other road defect) while you have been cycling, then you do have a right to make a claim.
If you are entitled to compensation, then that compensation can go some way to assist you with paying for medical expenses, any travel costs you have accrued as well as replacing or repairing your bike. As with other cycling accidents, there are two types of damages that go towards your final compensation award.
The first is general damages. These are calculated using judicial guidelines and what levels of compensation have been previously awarded in similar cases, and with similar injuries. The second type of damages is special damages. These take the form of any reasonable financial losses that you have incurred due to the accident. These may include:
- Payment for medical treatment
- Repairing or replacing your bike
- Repairing or replacing any of your cycle kit or accessories
- Assistance with personal care
- Loss of earnings
- Travel expenses
- Any losses due to inability to pursue personal interests
Cycling Pothole FAQ’s
Who Is Responsible For Repairing Potholes?
Most of the time it is the local council’s responsibility and duty to ensure that all the roads and pavements in their constituency are appropriately maintained. This means that the road and pavements should be free of any defect so that pedestrians, cyclists and other road users can travel safely.
The maintenance of other major roads (and motorways) is usually the responsibility of the Highways Agency. Both of these authorities must ensure that the roads are regularly checked so that any potential hazards can be identified and repaired within a reasonable amount of time. When it comes to what is a reasonable amount of time, then the local council will identify the specific time frames. These are also influenced by what grade the road has based on its importance in the area.
If your local council or the Highways Agency have failed in their duty, meaning you suffered an injury while riding your bike because the road was not maintained or repaired, then you can bring a claim against them for the pain and suffering you have been subject to.
How Do I Claim For A Cycling Injury Caused By A Pothole?
In order to have a successful claim, it is necessary to establish that the local authority or Highways Agency has been negligent. Therefore we have to prove that they neglected their duty to keep you safe when you were injured by a pothole or other road defect.
Ideally, you need to contact the team here at Smith Jones as soon as possible because the detailed evidence on the road defect must be collected as close to the incident as it can. Not only that, but there are specific time frames for bringing a personal injury claim. One of the team will discuss these with you. The evidence we would hope to collect from you would be:
Where the accident took place (this is so we can use the location to determine whether the claim will be against the local authority or Highways Agency):
- The road name and specially whereabouts on the road
- The pothole or road defect
- Any landmarks
- Any lamp posts (and their serial numbers)
- The pothole or road defect
Witnesses (we need these to try and corroborate the details of the accident that you have provided us, which is especially important if the Highways Agency or local authority deny responsibility):
- Contact Details
It is advised that you take photographs of the road as soon as possible after the accident.
When it comes to taking photographs of the pothole or road defect, try and get measurements in the photos. This can be a spirit level or tape measure. Anything that will clearly display the width and depth of the defect. If possible try and get an accurate date stamp in the photo as well.
When is a pothole or other road defect considered dangerous?
For a defect to be considered legally dangerous it must be of a minimum depth. Therefore, it is unlikely that your claim would be successful if it did not meet these minimum depths, but there can be exceptions.
A pavement defect must be a minimum of 20mm, a road defect needs to be a minimum of 40mm and a motorway defect needs to be a minimum of 40mm.
How Long Will My Claim Take?
As every case is different, the timescales and process for a case settling can vary. Your claim will move a lot quicker if the local authority or Highways Agency admits liability immediately or very early on. If this happens, our cycle accident claims solicitors would arrange a medical report and proceed to settle your claim based on the contents of the report.
If liability is not admitted then we will have to take the necessary steps to try and prove that their negligent actions resulted in your injury. This is when we can use the evidence that you have already gathered along with any other supporting evidence we feel we need. Some of this evidence might include reports on your specific pothole or defect ascertaining whether or not it has been previously reported or if they have failed to repair it in the given time frame. Equally, we might look at surrounding roads and their defects and timeframes for repair.