Home Business NewsBusinessAutomotive News Potholes cost UK drivers £500 million last year, expert advises how to claim compensation for damage

Potholes cost UK drivers £500 million last year, expert advises how to claim compensation for damage

by LLB staff reporter
15th Feb 24 7:31 am

The cold winter weather makes for some hazardous driving conditions, but also has a profound effect on the condition of the UKs road network.

The wet weather and sub-zero temperatures of the season contribute to thousands of potholes that develop on our roads every year.

In 2023 alone, there were almost 630,000 potholes reported to local authorities across the country, costing drivers as much as £500m in repairs.

If you’re one of the unlucky motorists to have obtained damage from a pothole, there may be a way you can get compensation for the cost of your repair bills.

John Wilmot, founder and CEO of car leasing comparison site LeaseLoco, explains exactly how motorists can make a claim for costs of repairs and how potholes could potentially damage your vehicle if you hit one whilst driving.

What damage can a pothole cause to your vehicle?

Tyre damage

One of the most common issues caused by potholes is damage to tyres. Driving over a pothole could result in a puncture, bulges and cracks in the sidewall of your tyre.

In some cases, a pothole could inflict enough damage to burst the tyre completely, depending on the angle and the speed you drive over an incoming pothole in the road.

The cost for a replacement tyre can range from anywhere between £50 to £500 each depending on the size and type your vehicle requires.

Misaligned wheels

Hitting a pothole can also cause issues with wheel alignment. Potholes can jolt your suspension components, bending tie rods, control arms, or other parts responsible for keeping your wheels aligned.

This can cause an array of problems such as uneven tyre wear, pulling to one side and your vehicle overall feeling less responsive whilst driving.

Whilst vehicle realignment is a relatively easy fix and costs around £50 at your local mechanic, replacing suspension could cost anywhere between £100 and £600, depending on the severity of the damage.

Alloy wheel cracks

The wheel itself could also be damaged by the impact of a troublesome pothole, especially lightweight alloy wheels.

A pothole can cause stress points that weaken the metal of your wheel, leading to cracks emerging over time and increasing the chances of the wheel shattering completely.

This poses a serious safety risk, especially when driving at high speeds. Getting your wheels refurbished is the best way to fix cracks before they become a bigger problem. Costs all depend on the size of your wheel and the severity of the damage, so expect to pay up to £120 per alloy.

Cracks in the windscreen

Hitting a pothole at force sends shockwaves through your car, which puts stress on the windscreen. If you have an existing chip in the glass, a pothole has the potential to cause further damage by turning it into a crack.

This could result in a failed MOT, along with a fixed penalty and a fine if the crack causes an obstruction of the view ahead. If your car insurance covers windscreens, the cost to repair or replace is usually low as you’ll only be liable to pay the excess outlined in your policy.

You may find your car insurance premium rises come renewal time however, which could increase motoring costs long term.

Damage to Steering

While less common, potholes can also cause damage to the components linked to the steering systems such as the rack, tie rods and control arms. Sudden jolts from deep potholes in the road can cause stress cracks and even bend these components, which could lead to reduced steering precision or even loss of control.

Like all repair costs, it all depends on the severity of the damage and the type of vehicle you drive. For a small family hatchback, a replacement steering rack could cost as much as £600. Factor in labour costs and you could be looking at a bill pushing £900.

How can I claim compensation for pothole damage?

The process for claiming compensation for pothole damage is pretty straightforward, providing you have all the necessary information and evidence to support your case.

Take the necessary steps below to make a claim for pothole damage

Gather evidence

If it’s safe to do so, take photographs of the damage caused to your vehicle, as well as the pothole itself. Bear in mind that most local authorities class a pothole as being at least 40mm deep – anything less than this could be harder to claim against.

Other evidence worth collecting include the date, time and location of the incident, road signs and other potential hazards.

Get costs on vehicle repairs

It’s worth getting estimates for the costs of repair work prior to making a claim, as this can provide further evidence and proof that the damage to your vehicle was caused by a pothole.

Ensure you keep estimates or invoices from conducted repairs which can be uploaded to solidify your claim.

Identify the responsible authority

Before reporting a pothole, it’s important to conduct some research to find out who is responsible for maintaining that particular road.

The Government website allows you to enter a postcode which reveals who is most likely to be responsible for road maintenance in that area, which could be a local council, or the Highways Agency if it’s an A road or part of the motorway network.

Reporting the pothole

Most local councils or the Highways Agency have online systems where you can report potholes in any roads they are responsible for maintaining.

Often, you can upload any photographic evidence of the pothole and include information on the damage caused to your vehicle. Ensure that you note the exact location of the pothole so the local council can take action.

If you lose your appeal

Not all claims are successful and if you’re unfortunate enough to lose your claim for pothole compensation, you can appeal the decision.

You could obtain the inspection record of the road that the pothole is on via a freedom of information (FOI) request. This could help you find out whether the road was inspected and repaired regularly.

If the maintenance record isn’t up to scratch this could provide you with evidence of negligence and increase your chances of a claim. All authorities will allow you to appeal, therefore it’s worth considering if you’re unsuccessful the first time round.

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