I was involved in a car accident caused by a pothole in the road. I lost control of the car and collided with a brick wall and suffered severe whiplash. Will I be entitled to claim compensation against the local authority?
You are owed a duty of care by the authority responsible for maintaining the roads to ensure that you are not placed at an excessive risk of sustaining an injury while driving, and if you were involved in a car accident caused by a pothole it is possible the local authority breached a duty of care and was negligent for failing to maintain the roads to an acceptable standard.
Even though you lost control of a vehicle due to a pothole it does not necessarily mean that a claim can be made against the local authority. The duty of care owed to you is not absolute, and there would only have been a failure in this duty of care if the pothole had been present for some time prior to your accident. The local authority would not be liable for your injury if the pothole had formed quickly after a prolonged spell of snowy and icy weather conditions or from a recent storm.
A reasonable amount of time must be allowed for an inspection of the roads to take place to allow a pothole to be identified and repairs scheduled. In order for a claim for compensation for a car crash caused by a pothole in the road to be successful, it must be proven that either the council was aware of the pothole and failed to take action to address the hazard in a reasonable time frame, or that the pothole should have been identified and repaired in time to prevent your accident.
Pothole accident claims can be complicated, as it is not always easy to establish how long a pothole had been present prior to an accident occurring. It is therefore recommended that you seek legal advice about making a local authority injury claim and you should allow a solicitor to prepare your case and collect evidence of negligence.
If the section of road on which your accident happened is monitored by CCTV cameras, it may be possible for your solicitor to obtain a copy of camera data to prove that you lost control of a vehicle due to a pothole; although it is unlikely to be able to determine the length of time the pothole was present. Camera data is rarely stored for long periods of time.
To establish when the pothole was formed, a solicitor may need to speak to local residents. If residents in the area can confirm that the pothole had developed over an extended period of time, and no action was taken to make repairs by the local authority, statements can be taken to this effect to support pothole accident claims.
A solicitor will also attempt to discover if prior complaints had been made to the local authority about the state of the road surface to prove that the local authority was aware of the pothole and failed to take action. The Gardai may also be contacted to find out if there have been any other reports of a car accident caused by a pothole on the same stretch of road.
If a good body of evidence can be collected to support a claim for compensation for a car crash caused by a pothole in the road, it should be possible to resolve your claim reasonably quickly.