Cycling is a great way of keeping fit, reducing our carbon footprint, and getting around at little to no cost whatsoever; something that’s key given the obscene prices of petrol nowadays. But one huge disadvantage is the lack of protection when it comes to an accident when riding a bike.
Hitting a pothole whilst riding a bicycle can result in some serious injuries. Hopefully you’re wearing a helmet to prevent or reduce any head trauma, but you’d be lucky not to break any bones if you go flying over the handlebars. Some potholes are very hard to spot and simply cannot be avoided.
So if you are the victim of a pothole bicycle accident, what are your rights when it comes to making a claim for personal injury compensation?
The Highways Act 1980
The above legislation puts a duty on whichever local council or authority is responsible for an area of land to inspect and maintain the area. So when it comes to potholes, the duty they have is to have a system of inspection to take all reasonable steps to repair or make safe a pothole.
If a pothole is reported, the duty is to as quickly as possible make safe or repair the pothole.
So if that’s the duty they have, when can you win a claim? How do we prove that they have failed to take all reasonable steps?
Normally a road or pathway needs to be inspected and maintained at intervals that reflect how busy the area is. So a city centre may be inspected every one to three months. A residential country road may only be inspected every 12 months. So whether you can win a claim or not is largely dependent on:
- When the last inspection of the area was
- If the pothole has existed longer than the inspection interval
- If the pothole has been reported
To give you a practical example, if you’re injured on the 5th of January on a road that was last inspected on the 1st of November, and this road is inspected every three months, then the next inspection is due on the 1st of February.
Your accident occurred in between inspection periods, and if the last record indicated that the pothole that caused your injury was not there on the 1st of November – the suggestion is that it has formed sometime between your accident and the last inspection.
But as the next inspection isn’t due for almost a month, the council will defend the claim based on a special defence they have.
They can do this because the law states they only have to take all reasonable steps to prevent an accident, and an inspection regime is classed as a reasonable step. So if you’re injured in between inspection periods, they’ve taken all reasonable steps and will likely defend the claim.
This makes winning a pothole claim quite difficult. But don’t be put off making a claim as there are ways and means we can use to see if their inspection systems are good enough or not. Always get in touch with us and we will see if we can assist you.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.