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A pothole that could cause a nasty cycling accident.

Gathering evidence in pothole bicycle accident claims

We’ve all encountered potholes and other road defects in the road surface. But for cyclists, potholes can cause serious injury and major damage to their bikes. This is ironic, because as the lightest of road users, cyclists contribute to road deterioration the least or not at all.

So how do you know if you can claim redress? The starting point is the size of the defect.

One of the problems with potholes is defining exactly what constitutes as one, and this varies depending on the local council.

The Highways Authorities won’t generally repair a defect unless it is a depression of 40mm or more in depth, extending greater than 300mm in any one direction.

In order to pursue a successful claim, it is usually necessary to demonstrate that the depth of the defect is greater than 25mm (1 inch) when the defect is on the pavement/footpath or 40mm (1 ½ inches) when the defect is in the surface of the road itself.  However, this measurement varies from council to council with the threshold being as high as 50mm in some instances.


Measurement and photographic evidence

If you choose to pursue a claim following an accident involving a pothole or road defect, it would assist your legal team if you could provide photographs of both the pothole and its exact location. When safe to do so, we recommend taking photographs as soon as possible after the accident.


  • Try and show the depth (where appropriate) in the photograph.
  • We recommend placing a straight edge (such as a spirit level) across the top of the defect and measuring the depth to the bottom using a tape measure/ruler.
  • Ensure that the actual measurement on the tape/ruler is clearly shown in the photographs.
  • Don’t delay – you will need to take photographs of the pothole that caused your injuries before it is repaired. If you have notified the local authority of the defect, they may repair it before you have gathered your vital evidence.

If your injuries are so severe that you are unable to gather the evidence yourself, we recommend you ask a friend to help or let your legal representative know and they may be able to provide assistance.

It is also important to provide a photograph showing a slightly wider context, with a mark showing the approximate point of the defect in question and also the direction of travel to identify the exact location.


What about raised defects?

If you are a regular road cyclist, you will no doubt have encountered problems with raised defects in addition to potholes, for example bumps in the road when a pipe has been laid and the hole over filled in.

The case of Thomas v Warwickshire County Council (2011 EWCH 772 QB) is authority for the proposition that defects need not simply be potholes but also irregularities protruding from the road surface; in that case the issue was caused by spilt and set concrete.

As with any claim for compensation, each case is taken on its own merits and accurate evidence of the defect as set out above is essential.


We are cyclists ourselves at Cycle SOS and know full well how problematic potholes can be.

If you are a cyclist that has been injured in a pothole accident, we are here to provide you with assistance. We can also help you recover the cost of damage to your bike and kit and medical assistance requirements as a result of the accident.

Cycle SOS has been providing bespoke legal services to cyclists for over 30 years. Call our free initial advice helpline on 0808 100 999 5 to see how we can help you.

In the majority of cases, we can assist you with a claim at no initial cost to you. Almost all of our cyclist pothole claims are funded through a Conditional Fee Agreement. More commonly known as a no win, no fee agreement, this will mean you will only pay for our services if you are successful in your claim.

You can also recommend us to a friend or family member that has been involved in a cycling accident and you could benefit from our loyalty reward scheme.

Written By:

Cycle SOS
Cycle SOS only deal with cycle accident claims. We understand cyclists, and believe that cyclists have the right to be safe on the roads. Cycle SOS The Cyclists National Helpline is made up of a highly trained team of specialist personal injury cycling lawyers that have recovered millions of pounds for people making bicycle accident claims.