What can you do about pothole damage?

Paul Hadley
12/17/201817th December, 2018
Filed under Car Topics

You might be shocked at the cost of potholes to drivers. According to research from the AA, across the year some 6.3 million drivers suffered damage from hitting potholes, and it is costing drivers £684 million to repair that damage. Potholes can affect everything from tyres and wheels to suspension and exhaust systems.

So, what should you do if you have suffered damage from a pothole? Here we look at some of the causes of the pothole problem, and what you can do if your car has been damaged by a pothole. Do you just have to claim on your insurance, or do you have other options available?

The Pothole Problem

You don’t have to drive for long on Britain’s roads to realise that we have got a huge problem with potholes. According to motoring group RAC, 5,540 call-outs in the first three months of 2018 were as a result of potholes. It is becoming a real burden on local councils which are struggling to finance the road repair.

In some cases, more money is being spent on temporary road plates and barriers (such as these from road plate suppliers Maltaward) than it would actually cost to fix the potholes themselves. This is due to the time it takes to schedule in the repairs. Budget cuts and government austerity has taken its toll, but it has had a knock-on effect that has made it more expensive for the country as a whole.

The Cost to Drivers

Of course, it is not just government and local councils that it is costing. Drivers on the road are facing damaged cars from hitting potholes and the cost can mount up seriously. If you hit a pothole you could face a very heavy bill to get the damage repaired and that can seem unfair - so do you have any recourse to get compensation?

Well, there are many things that you can do if your car has been damaged by a pothole but you need to follow the correct steps in order to have the best chance of receiving some sort of compensation for the matter.

Here are four steps that you can take:


  • Report the pothole


The first thing that you need to do is report the pothole to your local highways authority. If there is no record of the pothole it can be challenging to deal with the matter. However, it is important to know that the authority that you need to contact can differ depending on the type of road that the pothole is located on.

If the pothole is on a motorway or an A road then you need to get in touch with Highways England. If the pothole is on a minor road then you need to contact the city, county or borough council that manages the road. Contacting the incorrect authority will delay the process.


  • Get evidence


It’s a good idea to gather evidence of the pothole - it could be that the pothole is filled in during the intervening period, which could make it more challenging to submit a claim. If you can do it safely take a picture of the pothole or note the position of the pothole on a map. This helps the authority to identify the hole.


You need to let the authority know that pothole’s location relative to the kerb, and provide a full name of the road, and direction you were travelling, as well as the rough size and depth of the pothole.


  • Get a quote


Next you need to know approximately how much it is going to cost you to repair the damage to your car so that you can make an appropriate claim. Get a few different quotes from local garages, and ensure that they inspect the car thoroughly rather than just glancing at superficial exterior damage - it may be that the jolt damaged something hidden from view, such as the suspension.


  • Submit your claim


Finally, you need to write to the authority in question with a full description of what happened as well as the evidence that your have gathered. It may be the case that your claim is rejected at first, citing section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, which permits the road authority to defend a claim by suggesting that they have taken reasonable steps to maintain the road.

However, you can submit a freedom of information request to establish information such as details on inspections of the road in question and details of complaints made about the pothole that damaged your car. It may be the case that the council acted negligently and you would be able to claim compensation.

author avatar Written by Paul Hadley

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