Potholes can cause problems to all kinds of road users. For cyclists in particular, they can be incredibly dangerous. It’s no surprise, in fact, that so many cyclists submit a claim for pothole damage against their local authority, which may not maintain their infrastructure correctly.
If you’ve been injured after hitting a pothole whilst cycling, or even if you’ve emerged unharmed but your bicycle has suffered serious damage, it’s only natural to seek legal advice, and potentially look at claiming compensation.
Pothole damage can be extremely serious, leading to expensive repair costs from an independent bicycle dealer. or tyre specialist or, in some cases, requiring you to replace your bicycle outright.
At Cycle SOS, our legal team have successfully represented, since 1988, thousands of cyclists who have been involved in an accident resulting from a pothole. For these cyclists, we have gone on to obtain compensation from the authority responsible for not only the injuries sustained, but also for other costs including loss of earnings, medical assistance, and damage to the bike and kit
Unfortunately, there is no agreed definition of a pothole.
One suggested definition is that they are ‘isolated failures in a road, footway or cycleway that have caused a sizable hole.’ But issues arise when trying to form an agreement as to the precise size and cause of a pothole.
In fact, this is where many pothole claims fall apart in the early stages – without an experienced team, with a track record of successful claims for compensation, you may even struggle to get the local authorities to take you seriously.
Despite the lack of a clear, legal definition of potholes, we all know what they are. These, sometimes unavoidable, features of the road can be a nightmare for any road user, and a deep pothole can be serious enough to cause car insurance claims, vehicle damage claims, cyclists pothole claims and much more.
For more information about what constitutes a pothole and advice on how to measure road defects, please see our informative video.
Here in the UK, our roads are subject to a great deal of wear and tear from heavy traffic, as well as the ever-changing weather. The regular freeze and thaw of Autumn, Winter and Spring is the perfect weather for creating potholes in UK roads.
Most potholes form when water seeps into cracks in asphalt surfaces, then when temperatures drop and this water turns to ice it expands, causing even deeper cracks. The weight of vehicles that drive over these potholes then causes chunks of the road surface to break away, creating a pothole.
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We understand that it may be difficult to wait for an outcome, but rest assured that we will do all we can to ensure your claim succeeds as quickly as possible.
Typically, a claim for pothole damage while riding a bicycle can take anywhere from 3 months to a year, but some do take even longer if you’re required to go to court.
The amount of time it will take to claim compensation for your cycle pothole damage or injury, in addition to its overall outcome, depends on a wide range of factors. Some of the most important things to consider when you’re seeking pothole compensation include:
The amount you may be able to claim for pothole damage depends on a range of different factors. Typically, you’ll claim for the seriousness of your injuries, and the long-term impact the incident has on your life.
Obviously, the more serious and life-altering your injuries, the more you should be entitled to claim. For minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises, a claim is still valid but would not normally be expected to reach the same level of compensation as more serious bicycle pothole claims.
To get an idea of the potential value of your cyclist pothole claim you may be able to receive, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of bicycle solicitors.
The severity of your injury following your accident can have a big difference on both the amount of time your case can take, and the amount of compensation you could be able to claim for.
Typically, the more serious and life-altering your injuries, the more you’ll be able to claim in compensation. However, with more complex litigation work, the process can often move slower, and take longer to complete.
Some of the more serious injuries you can sustain following a collision with a deep pothole include:
If your pothole related damage is restricted to your bicycle, then the claim process is usually much less complex and can be completed quicker than if you were claiming for a physical injury. They can often be dealt with in small claims court, meaning you can avoid the long legal process of claiming for a significant amount of compensation.
Bicycle repair or replacement costs are generally quite low, so insurers are often keen to settle these types of claims quickly, rather than engaging in lengthy legal proceedings.
All the evidence that you, and we, have gathered, can impact the outcome of your case. For example, being able to prove the pothole’s location, depth, and position and whether (according to appropriate council’s road inspection reports) the pothole was clearly visible and therefore, detectable at the time of your accident are all important factors in determining who is liable.
When you gather evidence related to your claim for pothole damage or injuries, you’ll strengthen your claim, and make it much more likely to succeed. Whether you’re making an insurance claim, or starting compensation claims against the part responsible for your injuries, gathering evidence is one of the most important parts of the process.
In addition to images, medical reports and invoices, the testimony of other drivers or road users can be extremely useful in making a successful claim for compensation
The responsibility of the repair of potholes lies with the local Highways Authority, this will usually be a county, city or borough council. However, councils do not have a duty to immediately fix every defect in the road, as it could be that they were unaware of the problem. Each council follows their own set of guidelines in relation to pothole repairs and the exact protocol can vary.
Today, there are plenty of delays to fixing potholes on UK roads, no matter where in the country you are. A reduction in council funding, a substantial increase in the amount of vehicles on the road and the ever-increasing age of our roads means that potholes are appearing all the time, and it’s practically impossible to stay on top of them (particularly on major roads and A roads).
The local authority has a duty of care to ensure the roads are safe for all who use them. Parts 42-58 of the Highways Act 1980 include the applicable legislation in England and Wales. Part 1 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 applies throughout Scotland. It is Article 8 of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 in Northern Ireland.
During 2020–2021, 1.7 million potholes were filled on local roads in England and Wales, equivalent to one every 19 seconds.
Cyclists can make a claim against the council for pothole damage if the local authority fails to maintain the roads to a safe standard. Local councils must ensure road safety – this includes repairing potholes.
You must prove that the pothole caused the damage and that the council was aware of it but failed to fix it in a reasonable timeframe to win your claim. The council may challenge your claim if they can prove they took reasonable steps to inspect and repair the road surface. As this can be a complex and intimidating task for many, it is always best to seek legal advice. Please call CycleSOS on 0808 100 9995 for reliable advice.