Can I get compensation for damage done by a pothole?  

Reader's car was written off after it hit a pothole causing it to crash into a ditch. Can she get compensation from the local council?...

01 April 2019
pothole sign

I was driving along a country lane in Warwickshire just over a year ago when I hit a large pothole. My car’s left front wheel buckled as a result, leading to me losing control and coming to a stop in a ditch.

The car was declared a total write-off, because the driveshaft was knocked out of position, the front suspension was completely broken and the wheel had been driven back into the passenger footwell.

I’ve attempted to claim damages from the county council but have been unsuccessful, despite sending photos of the road, car and weather conditions and a damage report.

There were two potholes next to each other on the area of the road, and even though the one I hit was marked with yellow paint, the council says it wasn’t registered on its system.

I have suffered great financial loss, so what steps could I take next?

Chloë Trainor

What Car? says…

Unfortunately, the council might be able to legally avoid compensating you if it can prove that it didn’t know about the pothole, has a proper maintenance programme and made regular checks of that particular road.

Potholes causing more car breakdowns

However, if you have evidence that the pothole had been reported or that the council didn’t duly inspect it, you could take the issue to the Small Claims Court. This lets you claim up to £10,000, and it’s a simple process. 

The fact that the pothole was marked with paint would be a good point to make in legal proceedings, especially if you think it was done by council workers. Also, if the council fixed the pothole soon after your incident, that shows it was dangerous and should have been fixed sooner. 

Read our guide to potholes

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