The pot­hole pay­out: drop in cash is­sued

How suc­cess­ful are claims after dam­age caused to ve­hi­cles?

The Scarborough Evening News - - WELCOME TO YOUR NEWS - by Poppy Kennedy poppy.kennedy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @Re­porterPoppy

‘Very few are at­trib­ut­able to neg­li­gence on the part of the au­thor­ity’

Pot­holes can be un­avoid­able and some treach­er­ous jour­neys have caused se­ri­ous dam­age to mo­torists’ ve­hi­cles – and come with a costly re­pair price.

If dam­age to the road has been re­ported it is pos­si­ble for driv­ers to claim com­pen­sa­tion for re­pairs and per­sonal in­jury from the county coun­cil.

But since 2014, the av­er­age amount paid out per claim to cover the cost of ve­hi­cle dam­age has dropped sig­nif­i­cantly.

Four years ago, North York­shire County Coun­cil paid out £36,657 to claims from mo­torists fol­low­ing dam­age to a ve­hi­cle specif­i­cally caused by pot­holes.

On av­er­age this works out to around £610 per suc­cess­ful claim – al­though some claims do re­sult in higher amounts than oth­ers. By 2017, of the suc­cess­ful claims which have been fi­nalised so far, an av­er­age of £241 per claim has been granted as com­pen­sa­tion.

The pay­out has seen a grad­ual de­crease in the past four years dip­ping to an av­er­age of £459 per claim in 2015 and £274 in 2016.

If a driver thinks the coun­cil has failed to main­tain the high­way they can ap­ply for com­pen­sa­tion. They must prove the high­way was not main­tained ap­pro­pri­ately and that this was the di­rect cause of the in­ci­dent and that they suf­fered a loss as a re­sult.

Even if this is proved, the coun­cil will not have to pay com­pen­sa­tion if it can demon­strate all rea­son­able steps to en­sure the high­way was safe were taken. This means that all in­spec­tions and re­pairs had been car­ried out as planned or re­ported.

If dam­age was caused after an in­spec­tion and the coun­cil was not no­ti­fied of the dam­age, it is not legally li­able.

In the first four months of 2018, more claims have been sub­mit­ted to the coun­cil across the county com­pared to all claims made in 2017.

So how of­ten are com­pen­sa­tion claims suc­cess­ful?

In 2014, North York­shire County Coun­cil paid out more than £36,000 in suc­cess­ful claims fol­low­ing dam­age to ve­hi­cles.

But out of 261 claims made to the coun­cil only 60 were suc­cess­ful – and since then the num­bers have dropped.

In 2014, one in just over four claims from across the county were suc­cess­ful which dropped to one in 5.2 by 2016.

In Scar­bor­ough and Whitby, the area’s driv­ers had one of the best chances of re­ceiv­ing a pay­out in 2014 – with one in ev­ery three claims be­ing granted com­pen­sa­tion.

Two years later, how­ever, of seven claims made in the Whitby High­way Area, which in­cludes Scar­bor­ough, none of the claims led to the mo­torist re­ceiv­ing com­pen­sa­tion.

A spokesper­son for the county coun­cil said: “The more re­cent years are classed “im­ma­ture”, as some claims will not yet have been brought to a con­clu­sion.

“The fig­ures are for when the claim oc­curred, so there will be fewer claims con­cluded for 2017 than 2016 and so on. This year is only about a third of the way through for claims to oc­cur.”

The area also has the sec­ond low­est num­ber of claims made to the coun­cil with 60 made from Jan­uary 2014 to April 2018 – com­pared to 589 claims sub­mit­ted to the Bor­ough­bridge High­way Area.

The coun­cil’s web­site on the is­sue says: “Claims made against the coun­cil are not au­to­mat­i­cally paid; all claims re­ceived are in­ves­ti­gated. Un­for­tu­nately in­ci­dents do oc­cur, how­ever, very few are ac­tu­ally at­trib­ut­able to neg­li­gence on the part of the high­way au­thor­ity.”

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