Huge rise in pothole claims (but council doesn’t pay out very often)

Stock image of pothole
Stock image of pothole

Less than 2% of claims made to Bucks County Council for damage allegedly caused to vehicles by potholes in recent years have been successful, The Bucks Herald can reveal.

In 2012/13 the authority paid £4,285 to 13 claimants out of 1,139 claims that were made.

The previous year 434 claims for pothole damage were made, with 15 successful claimants receiving £4,777.

In 2013/14 up to January 21, £1,654 had been paid to two claimants out of 298 made.

Richard Tanner from said the amount of successful claimants was ‘surprisingly low’.

The council said all claims are ‘dealt with on an individual basis’.

The figures show a sharp rise in the number of people claiming for pothole damage in 2012/13, with the council saying the bad winter that year could have resulted in more claims.

Gavin Wetherley, manager of ATS in Aylesbury, said they have seen more people bringing cars and tyres in with pothole damage.

He said: “It’s difficult to put a finger on the exact numbers but certainly it has tended to increase.

“There are all sorts of components that can be effected by it.”

People wishing to make a claim have to fill out a seven-page form about the damage, including drawings.

If the council has not been made aware of the pothole before the incident it is unlikely to pay out, with around 80% of claims rejected on this basis.

A council spokesman said: “All claims for damage or injuries relating to potholes are dealt with on an individual basis.

“Every case is different. Each claim is assessed by a team of claims handlers and dealt with as appropriate.

“Factors such as the weather and in particular the severity of the winter can have an impact on the number of potholes, and therefore the number of claims received.”

Mr Tanner said it can be difficult to get compensation.

He said: “A lot of the problem is that people are deterred quite often at the first step when the council writes back and quotes the Highways Act.

“If you’re a little more determined and have good evidence you can be successful.”

Of the Bucks County Council payouts, he said: “That is extremely low considering all those claims.”