Potholes and other similar defects on the road are usually caused by a combination of weather and traffic. Water in the underlying structure expands during freezing conditions and this causes the road surface to disintegrate. When this is combined with frequent traffic use the road surface can break down quickly resulting in potholes.
Accidents involving potholes account for around 10-15% of all cycling accidents.
Can I make a claim if I hit a pothole on my bike?
If you are a cyclist who has been injured as a result of hitting a pothole or other defect in the road then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. A claim can be made to the local highway authority.
The council will not automatically be held responsible for your accident as they do not have a duty to know and fix every defect on the road. The law states that they must operate a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance. For example if they had no knowledge of a pothole which arose in-between routine inspections then the council would have a valid defence to your claim. It is important that significant defects in the road are reported to the local authority so that they can be promptly repaired and serious accidents avoided as a result. If your accident was caused by a pothole which the council were already aware of then they are likely to accept responsibility.
Do I need to photograph the pothole?
It is essential that you obtain photographs of the pothole or defect which caused the accident and, if possible, some measurements. It is helpful if you can use a tape measure or ruler to measure the dimensions of the pothole. The photographs and measurements will be important evidence in your claim. The size of the pothole will be an important factor in determining whether the defect is considered to be dangerous or not.
Photographing other defects in the road and the surrounding area generally is also important. This will show the general state of the road at the time when your accident occurred and will help your case if the local authority claim that they are operating a regular system of inspection and repair.
If the council deny liability for the accident it will be crucial to obtain witness evidence from people who live or work near to the accident location to identify how long the defect has been present on the road. If the pothole was on your usual cycling route you may have noticed it before but may be unclear on when it first appeared – people who live or work locally are much more likely to know.
It is also helpful if you are able to obtain witnesses as to when the pothole was repaired if the council take action to make the area safe.
Expert Legal Advice
We have the experience and expertise to deal with all types of cycle claims, and a history of success in dealing with complex legal issues associated with cycle accidents. We have a former Local Authority Highways Inspector on our team, meaning that we are extremely successful in pursuing claims involving poor road conditions. Please contact us using our online claim form or call 0800 980 9390 for free no obligation advice on making a cycle accident claim.