Don't forget to register the pothole at fillthathole and make a point of mentioning that fact to the council, emphasing their legal responsibility to fill the hole now that they are aware of it.The trick is to find out what phrases trigger which of their responses. I understand that if a pothole is a certain depth then they have to look at it more quickly.
Seeing as the best way of winning a claim against a local authority is if you can show that they had knowledge of the fault and its risk, and adequate time to fix it but didn't, it's worth pointing out the risks. Being honest of course.
PaulMC from Singletrack said:I am a solicitor who specialise in defending LAs against claims so the following is an accurate summary of the position, as opposed to some of the comments above:
Highway Authorities, (usually the county council, metropolitan council or sometimes the Department for Transport) have a duty under s.41 of the Highways Act 1980 to maintain their highways.
The existence of a dangerous pothole amounts to a breach of that duty. There is no hard and fast rule as to what is considered dangerous but a pothole of sufficient depth/size to damage a normal car wheel would be. A depth of 40 mm or more is usually a minimum.
Once breach of duty is established the HA is liable to compensate unless it can prove that it took reasonable steps to ensure that the highway was safe. HAs do this by operating periodic inspection programmes. If there is no inspection programme, or the inspections are too infrequent, or the defect was missed on inspection or it has been reported since the last inspection and sufficient time has passed for the HA to respond but it hasn't, the HA cannot prove that it has taken reasonable care and is liable to compensate.
The inspection frequency depends on a number of factors that can globally be described as the significance of the road. It ranges from monthly for busy/main roads to annually for minor backroads.
There is therefore no need necessarily for the hole to have been reported, although this may help.
If a HA has an adequate system of inspection and is not aware of the defect it has no legal obligation to compensate you.
HAs differ in their approach to claims. Some take an economic view and may simply settle low value claims if you persist. Many will not. HAs are acutely aware that they are very vulnerable to claims fraud and many will therefore treat your claim with some degree of scepticism in any event.
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