Jun
6
2011

Injuries resulting from potholes

What would happen if you should trip and fall, sustaining personal injuries as a result of a pothole?  Typical injuries might include bruising, swelling and soft tissue injuries to the back, ankles, knees and wrists together with fractures.

This winter’s bad weather brought our roads to a standstill and when the heavy snow and ice disappeared it left the general public facing another problem – a plague of potholes.

The situation has become so bad that there are now around 10 potholes for every mile of road in England and Wales and even more upon the pavements. So the chances of tripping in one are fairly high.

Just what has caused all these holes to appear?

During the normal course of a road’s existence, it wears and as it wears you tend to get cracks along the surface. Now, if that crack is sealed because the road and pavement are properly maintained then it will not be a problem. However, if it isn’t sealed then water seeps in there and gets under the surface. On a cold night the water then freezes and expands and, just as with your pipes at home, there is a burst which removes the road / pavement surface to leave behind a pothole.

Your local council is responsible for maintaining most potholes on public highways and pavements. In order to claim compensation for your accident which has resulted in personal injury is not always as easy as it seems.

Most local authorities will say that they are not liable if they are not aware of a pothole in the pavement / road and if they have been told, they are allowed up to seven days before they have to repair it.

Under the Highways Act all Councils have a duty of care to maintain the roads, but if you are injured as a result of a pothole it is up to you to prove that the Council was negligent using the concept of “reasonableness”. Each Council’s definition of what is reasonable can be different.

In last winter’s cold snap British insurance companies paid out over £10,000,000.00 in pothole related claims.

We can all help one another out. If you do see a pothole, even if you do not drive into or trip over it or it does not appear to do any damage, report it! There are a few web sites like potholes.co.uk or fixmystreet.com which are only too happy to take information about where the pothole is and they will inform the local authority. Local authorities appreciate this as it does give them up to date information about where potholes are forming and the opportunity to carry out repairs.

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