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I have damaged my vehicle or been injured as a result of a pothole, can I claim against the council?

When a pothole is identified on an inspection or is otherwise reported to us, any necessary repairs are carried out or they are made safe.

If the pothole causes you to suffer an injury or damage to your property, the Highways Act makes it clear that there is no automatic right to compensation and provides councils with a defence to claims which we are obliged to use.

It is important to understand the circumstances in which we can be held responsible. As the highway authority, we have a duty to 'maintain' the highway. The law sets out what is meant by maintenance, and some things are excluded, for example it does not include keeping a road free of mud.

If you think that the council has failed to maintain the highway, then you will have to prove this. You will have to show that:

  • The highway in question has not been maintained appropriately with regard to its importance and use and was therefore dangerous; and
  • This was the direct cause of the incident and that you have suffered a loss as a result.

Even if you can prove these things, the law gives a defence to the highway authority, and it will not have to compensate you if it can demonstrate that the council took all reasonable steps to ensure that the highway was safe. This means that all inspections and repairs had been carried out as planned or reported. Where we have fulfilled our duty to inspect and repair, yet were unaware of a defect related to your incident, usually where it has appeared since the last inspection and we have not been notified by the public, police etc. we are not legally liable.

See the highway claims page for more details, including how to make a claim.