Daily Mail

How can I force council to pay for pothole damage to my alloy wheels?

Our consumer lawyer answers your questions

- DEAN DUNHAM @deandunham

I BURST my tyre and damaged an alloy wheel after driving over a pothole. I called the council but was told that while I am legally entitled to make a claim, it is unlikely to be upheld. What can I do to boost my chances of winning?

J.P., via email.

LOCAL authoritie­s do not like pothole claims and, as such, they often deny liability and reject them. For this reason, it is important to know what your rights are and the law that underpins them before making a claim.

The law relating to potholes and liability for road maintenanc­e is predominan­tly set out in the Highways Act 1980.

The Act outlines the legal responsibi­lities and duty of care of road owners (normally highway agencies and local councils). They must ensure roads are safe and passable, so as to avoid causing injury (or damage to property) to those who use them.

However, it is important to know that Section 58 also provides authoritie­s with a defence (known as a statutory defence) to claims. This allows a council or highways agency to defend claims on the basis that they had taken reasonable measures to ensure problems such as potholes are found and dealt with swiftly.

All councils should have a system in place whereby they regularly inspect roads and, if necessary, repair them. Provided they have followed their system as they should, and can show the pothole in question had not already been reported to them, they may be able to reject your claim.

However, if you can prove they have not, or that their system differs from the national recommende­d standards for highway maintenanc­e, then you may be able to claim.

You can therefore see that to make a successful claim, you need first to do some homework so you have a full appreciati­on of what steps the authority has taken in relation to maintenanc­e and what it already knew, or did not know, about the pothole.

The Freedom of Informatio­n Act 2000 and the Environmen­tal Informatio­n Regulation­s 2004 entitle you to informatio­n held by a council or highways agency about a road and the safety inspection­s of it.

When you make your claim, you will need to send photograph­s of the pothole (showing the location on the road and the width and depth of the pothole) and the damage to your vehicle; and a quote to show the cost of repair. You must also provide details of the date and time of the incident. Ultimately, you will need to state that after doing your research you have clearly concluded that the authority has no defence under Section 58, as it has failed to properly maintain the road in question. MY STAYCATION in Cornwall was cancelled due to flooding following storm Ciaran. Am I entitled to get my money back, and can I claim compensati­on?

E.W., via email.

WHEN a consumer books a service or pays for goods but does not receive what they paid for because it cannot be provided (as here), there is an automatic right to a refund under the Consumer Rights Act.

However, it is highly unlikely you will be entitled to compensati­on, as the terms and conditions will likely contain what is known as a force majeure clause.

This means the holiday property owner is not liable if it is unavailabl­e due to an ‘act of God’ — a circumstan­ce that was unpreventa­ble and not of their making, such as a storm or flood.

■ WRITE to Dean Dunham, Money Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email d.dunham@dailymail.co.uk. No legal responsibi­lity can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom