6 Tips – Pothole Claims 2018
Pothole misery continues for cyclists
The roads aren’t always in the most ideal state around the UK, which is why many cyclists are wary of large potholes in the road made worse recently by adverse weather conditions during the winter months.
Potholes are a big problem for car drivers and an even greater danger for cyclists, with the potential to cause serious accidents and even fatalities.
There is now a pothole crisis, it can cost up to £9bn and over ten years to fix; it is not going away; see Pothole claim HELL.
What to do if you hit a pot-hole?
The AA on pothole claims offer some good guidance. It is common sense.
But as experienced solicitors dealing in this area there are some additional evidence you should obtain to stand a better chance of winning your claim.
Cyclists are at serious risk of injury if they ride over or hit a pothole. Having only just two wheels on the ground and a lower weight than cars, cyclists are ill-equipped to handle potholes. Serious injury and fatalities can easily follow. Sometimes, especially when riding at night, a pothole may not be seen causing surprise and shock to the victim.
Compared with motor vehicles, cyclists are particularly prone to injury. There is no metal cage or large tyres or suspension to cushion the impact. It will usually be skin and bone onto a hard tarmac surface. The result can be serious life changing injuries or worse.
This is why pothole accidents involving cyclists usually involve serious compensation amounts. You therefore need a seriously experienced solicitor to represent you.
6 TIPS ON HOW TO CLAIM COMPENSATION IF YOU HIT A POTHOLE
1. Ensure you have your photographic evidence of the pot-hole.
Most of us now have mobile phones that take photographs. The more photos you take the better. You need good quality photos of the pot-hole itself. How deep and wide. This will show the court and indeed the local council the full nature of the defect that caused the accident. The pothole must be at least 40mm in depth. The deeper and wider, the better to claim.
If you cannot take photographs immediately try to take them as soon after the accident as possible. If you are too ill to take them get a family member or friend to. The reason why you need to take the photographs quickly is because the Council may have it already planned to fill the pothole in and if it is done, you will not have any evidence of the defect. No evidence often results in no claim. It is vital you obtain the evidence without fail.
2. Take photos of your injuries.
This is important just in case the council who are responsible for the maintenance of the roads think there is something a bit dubious about how the accident was caused. The photos will show the injuries sustained and as such, more likely than not, could have caused the fall, not not due to some other type of injury, such as breaking your ankle playing football!
In addition, early photographs of the injury will provide a graphic illustration of the injury, the wound, the blood that is often lost to the insurance company or lawyers acting for the Council when its time to value your compensation. They will simply look at facts and figures but, as a tactic, I would always advocate disclosure of the pictures to the other side when it comes to settlement. It gives the added impact that is often needed to depict the seriousness of the injuries.
3. If there are houses nearby, take down the address.
Why would we recommend this? This is because the local council have an absolute defence to your claim (no matter how serious your injuries) if they can show they had a regular system of inspection of the road before your accident.
The example we give to clients is to explain what will happen if a council official had inspected the road the day before your accident. Upon that inspection, there was no defect found. However, if, over-night, the road surface crumbled and created a pothole which later in the day caused the accident, the council will not be found to blame. Why? It is because the council cannot be held responsible for every defect in the road. There are limited resources and the law will take this into account.
So why take down a nearby address? This is to try to defeat any claim the Council may have to say they inspected the road, say a week before the accident and there was no defect found. If you obtain a statement from a neighbour living close to the pothole who says that it had there for ‘months’ or ‘years’ you may have cogent evidence to defeat what the Council claims.
Again many personal injury solicitors simply fail to ask this question and give up. Experience counts.
If there are witnesses make sure you obtain their full contact details. All good solicitors will tell their clients that witnesses that support a claim are like ‘gold dust‘ and often make the difference between winning or losing a claim.
5. Be clear what you say at hospital or to your GP
It’s easy to say this, but if you are in pain, or disorientated you may not say the right thing. Sometimes this can have disastrous results. A medical consultant may ask how you injured yourself and you could say ‘I fell off my bike.’ Now this entry could be in your medical notes and it may not say that your bike struck a pot hole.
It simply reads ‘...I fell of my bike.’
BUT THE WORD ‘POTHOLE’ WAS NOT MENTIONED. PROBLEM!
If the council doubt your credibility, they could argue that your injuries were caused by you simply falling off your bike and that the accident was your own misfortune and not the council’s negligence for fault.
The absence of the word ‘pothole’ in the medical notes will make it much harder (but not always impossible) to prove that your accident was not of your own doing.
So try to be clear and make sure you mention the pothole to the hospital and your GP. You must remember if you have no other evidence to support your accident claim, the medical records are usually the only independent contemporaneous evidence you can produce in support. This is because it will usually be the first time you told your story on how the accident happened. As it is very close in time to the accident, there is usually less opportunity to lie and thus as close to the truth as can be found. A lot of weight will be attached to what you said to the doctors in the medical notes.
6. Find the right injury solicitor
Sometimes easier said than done. Ask lots of questions. Also ask what the solicitors ‘success fee‘ will be if you win the claim.
Most injury solicitors charge up to 25% of any compensation that you win. So if you are awarded £10,000 you may only receive £7,500, the solicitor pockets £2.500 of it (25%).
For the record most of our clients are charged less than this amount, as our success fee often is set at stages so the earlier the case is settled, the less success fee our clients have to pay. Simply going to a solicitor without questioning can cause you a lot of damage to your pocket.
This is why it is extremely important to consult with a firm of cycle accident solicitors experienced directly in pothole claims. As expert in this area we will deal with your case FREE OF LEGAL COSTS if you lose and more often lower success fees if you win.
Call us today on 0800 011 2757 or 0151 724 7121 or complete our online contact form and we will contact you.
Not Happy With Your Current Solicitors?
You do not have to stay with or use your Solicitors if they are making a pothole compensation claim for you. It is easy to change and transfer your cycle accident claim to us. Whether you are not happy with the service or just want a second opinion on your case we will be pleased to help you. Click here to find out more.
T: 0800 011 2757
T: 0151 724 7121
Posted: June 6, 2015 at 8:05 pm