Potholes may be a somewhat regular occurrence on roads and pavements throughout Scotland, but they can be hazardous and cause accidents as well as significant injuries to both pedestrians and cyclists.
It’s widely reported that Scotland has a ‘pothole problem’ that needs tackled which was only magnified when, just this week in Glasgow City Centre, a sinkhole emerged on North Fredrick Street just off George Square. The large hole that suddenly appeared, likely caused by erosion underneath the ground’s surface from poor water drainage, has been cordoned off for public safety and Glasgow City Council are working to establish the cause and a solution, as a priority.
Whilst sinkholes are not a widespread occurrence, potholes unfortunately are. A recent report from the Scottish Government shows that the number of potholes on Scotland’s major roads has increased fivefold in the last 13 years. The figures show 3,981 potholes were reported on trunk roads in 2007/8, compared to 20,988 in the last full financial year.
Your local council or Transport Scotland has a duty to keep road surfaces, pavements and walkways safe for use – and as part of this, they should fill in potholes as quickly as possible after they’ve been reported, to keep members of the public safe. If they’re left, potholes can get worse over time. For drivers, this can cause road accidents as large potholes can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. But on pavements they can also lead to slips, trips, and falls, causing painful injuries for pedestrians. These injuries can be wide ranging and can result in anything from a skinned knee to a broken bone to a long-lasting disability that could prevent you from working for an extended period of time.
Here at Bonnar Accident Law, we have significant experience handling these types of claims. Whilst these cases can often be tricky, we have an impressive track record of success and will work tirelessly to win the maximum financial settlement possible. If you’d like more information get in touch today, or keep reading to find out more.
Am I Eligible to Make a Pothole Claim?
In order to be eligible to claim compensation from a pothole accident, you will need to satisfy a few simple criteria. The most crucial of which are;
- Whilst it can vary, most Scottish courts will require potholes to be at least 20mm deep on pavements or 40mm deep on roads, and 300mm wide, to be classed as potholes and not ‘carriageway defects’.
- The accident needs to have happened in the last three years, or your injury became apparent within the last three years.
Who is Responsible for the Pothole?
Unfortunately, potholes can pop up anywhere whether it’s on a public street, private property, or in your workplace. In regards to your claim for compensation following any injuries you’ve sustained, it’s the location of the pothole that will dictate who your claim will be made against.
If you’re the victim of a pothole accident at your work, and it can be proven that your employer has failed to mee the required Health and Safety standards set out by law, then you will have a viable route to claiming compensation against your employer.
Most pothole accidents will happen on public roads, which are the responsibility of either your local council or Transport Scotland. Local councils are responsible for the maintenance of all roads in their area – except motorways and trunk roads – in terms of section 1 of the 1984 Roads (Scotland) Act. In terms of the maintenance and management of these main roads, this falls under the jurisdiction of Transport Scotland.
A key aspect to a successful claim against the council following a pothole accident is being able to prove that the council ought to have repaired it already, therefore if there’s evidence of either a complaint or that the pothole has been there for a lengthy period of time, this can greatly support your claim.
If the pothole you fell or tripped into was on private land, you may be able to make a pothole accident claim if there has been negligence on the part of the landowner to maintain the safety of the surface or provide adequate warning if there are any hazards. For a case such as this, we’d highly recommend expert legal advice so if this has happened to you, get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee Solicitors today.
What Evidence Do I Need to Make a Claim?
The well-known saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is especially true when it comes to compensation claims for pothole accidents. To ensure a successful resolution to your case, we need to prove that the responsible party whether that’s the council, a landowner or your employer, breached their duty of care to ensure that the road or pavement was safe and usable. As such, it’s important to gather as much specific information and evidence as you can at the time. Try to record the following:
- Photographic evidence of the pothole and surrounding area. The pictures should clearly demonstrate the size, location and depth of the pothole. To help with this, it’s a good idea to place a ruler or a recognisable item, like a coin or your keys into the pothole when taking the photo. This will help to clearly demonstrate the size of the pothole that caused your accident
- For cyclists, photographic evidence of any damage to your bike
- Statements from any witnesses who saw the accident
- Full contact details for any witnesses
- The date, time and exact location of the accident
Most importantly of course, if necessary, seek medical attention as soon as possible and report to your GP following any hospital admissions. Finally, be sure to report the pothole to the relevant body whether that is your local council or Transport Scotland.
If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like more information, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.