Making a Claim against the Council for Pothole Damage

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By Grace Hickman

on Tuesday 24 April 2018

Many potholes in the road

Potholes in the road? Who hates them?

You may be out and about innocently driving along, remaining alert for hazards and prepared for any impending chaos, when a pothole can come from nowhere and ruin your day.

Regardless of how careful you are, driving over a pothole in the road normally causes a horrible bang or clunk, causing no damage if you're lucky - if you aren’t so lucky, it could cost you a lot.

Due to the increasing number of cars on UK roads every year, delays in road maintenance because of lacking funds (approximately £1 billion) and our infamous wet and cold climate, there are more than 1 million reported potholes on our roads, and drivers are spending over £1.7 billion a year on fixing damage to their vehicles by potholes!

Potholes can cause road traffic accidents and personal injuries. This can happen either by swerving to avoid them or if the damage to your vehicle is bad enough (such as broken wheels and suspension), they can cause your vehicle to crash.

In addition to that, if you are not injured, you may suffer the hassle of having to get your car repaired – then, you might need a replacement car while it’s getting fixed.

You might even find yourself wishing to make a pothole claim against your local council to cover the costs of any losses – after all, it’s the law for them to fix defective road surfaces and pay compensation if they’ve failed to properly maintain the roads. At Non Fault Claims, we may be able to help with all of this.


How Deep Does a Pothole Have to Be to Make a Claim?

Whether you hit a pothole at a low or high speed, it can do damage in a number of ways. It’s the local authorities' responsibility to be maintaining around 90% of roads in the UK, but the rules regarding what counts as a pothole are sometimes unclear.

Depth is what defines a pothole – if it doesn’t match the criteria of your local council, then it could just be named a ‘minor carriageway defect’ and the council are likely to refuse your claim.

The minimum depth of a pothole differs from council to council – generally, 40mm is a guideline. Width is also a factor in determining a pothole – usually, this is 300mm, but again, this can change depending on the council.

For example, Nottinghamshire County Council state that it must be at least 40mm deep for action to be taken, whereas Shropshire Council define a pothole as being deeper than 50mm and wider than 75mm. So be sure to check with yours!


Can I Claim for Vehicle Damage Caused by a Pothole?

Yes. It is a legal obligation for Britain’s highway authorities and other agencies to keep on track of road maintenance and ensure all roads are at a safe standard, this is including keeping on top of potholes, uneven surfaces and loose chippings – all of which can cause accidents. If they have failed to do this and a pothole has caused damage to your car, then you can claim to cover repair costs and any other expenses associated with the claim.

The amount you can claim for depends on the extent of damage done to your vehicle. Car damage claims can be around £300 to £500 to cover the expenses, but many things must be taken into consideration to determine the cost.

It’s possible to claim directly to the council yourself, or some people might be able to claim for vehicle damages by using the uninsured loss recovery service included in their car insurance policy – this may come at a small extra fee, so be sure to check this with your insurer. You may even want to seek legal advice and get a solicitor to help you, especially if you’ve suffered a personal injury.

It’s up to you how you’d prefer to claim - we are available to help and give advice at Non Fault Claims – so give us a call today for more information!


How do I Claim Compensation for Pothole Damage?

Whether or not you decide to claim, your first actions should be to check who’s responsible, report the pothole to your local council and report the incident to the police straight away - they should also be asked to take a look at the scene. Doing this should encourage the local authority to arrange for repairs to be made to the road and it will be officially recorded should you decide to claim - ideally, it should be reported within 14 days after the incident.

You should try to claim as soon as possible – damage caused because of a pothole that happened two years ago would be difficult to claim for, for example.

To maximise the chances of your claim succeeding, you will need to gather evidence to help prove your case:

  • In the age of the smartphone, it’s easy to take photos or videos of your car and the scene where it was damaged – take as many as you can! Put an object inside the pothole to give an idea of the size at the time your car was damaged – for example, most people use a 50p coin or two 20p coins stacked on top of one another to show the depth of the pothole. The best thing would be to use a ruler or measuring tape in the photo. Make sure it is safe to do this on the road first and do not do this on the motorway.


  • Take notes of exactly where the pothole is, including the street name, town or city (you can use Google Maps to pinpoint your exact location), when the incident took place (exact date and time) and a detailed description of the damage done to your car – try not to miss out any information and be as accurate as possible. Making a note of the weather and traffic will also help towards your case.


  • If possible, get the details of any witnesses that saw what happened.


  • Get your car repaired. Depending on the time it’ll take, you may need a replacement vehicle – we may be able to help you with that at Non Fault Claims. It’s vital you keep a record of all receipts and documentation regarding the costs and extent of repairs – again, this will strengthen your case.


If you decide to make a claim, our solicitor partners can help assess your case and collate all the necessary information. Claiming against the council can be a daunting process and every case is different, so we aim to make it as easy as possible for you.


Non Fault Claims

If a pothole has damaged your vehicle, caused you to suffer financial loss or a personal injury, contact us today at Non Fault Claims and we may be able to help determine how much compensation can be claimed and get you get back on track.

0808 1454275

Non Fault Claims can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!

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