Find out how to report potholes and how to make a claim if you are injured or suffer damage to your car or property because of them.
Potholes are a major issue on UK roads. They can damage your car's wheels, tyres, suspension and bodywork.
They can also skew your steering and water-filled potholes can affect catalytic converters.
Repairing the damage can be expensive and - if you claim on your car insurance - your premium might go up.
Potholes begin to form when water gets into the road's foundation from the cracks in the surface tarmac.
It freezes and expands in cold weather. When the temperature rises again the ice melts, leaving a void beneath the road surface that later collapses under the weight of traffic.
If you hit a pothole, make sure you gather evidence to help support any future claims.
Even if you don’t intend on making a claim, you should still report the relevant authority.
Find which body is responsible for the culprit pothole by searching for the road using its postcode at Gov.uk.
Once you know who is responsible, you can use a Freedom of Information Act request to find out the history of the road’s repairs.
You’ll also be able to find out if the pothole had been previously reported by other road users.
If you can show that the council knew about the pothole and did nothing about it within a reasonable period, you have a stronger chance of making a successful claim.
Once you know who is responsible for the road and whether they've upheld their duty to maintain it or not, you can decide whether you want to make a claim.
You can request a claim form from the relevant authority who should post one out to you. These are often called 'quick claims' and are the fastest method of reclaiming from councils.
Beware, however, this could still take a while and there is no guarantee your claim will be successful.
If the council rejects your claim, but you think you still want to pursue it, you can take them to small claims court.
Some councils prefer to pay a settlement figure, either partial or full, to avoid court fees.
Not all do, so make sure you have a strong case with irrefutable evidence that authorities neglected to repair the road within a reasonable timeframe. If your case is unsuccessful, you'll have pay legal fees if you lose. Get legal advice before you pursue the case through the small claims court.
How much you can claim depends on how damaged your car is - you may get some or all of the repair costs back from the council.
If your claim is rejected by the courts and the council, you may still be able to claim through your car insurance. You can’t claim from your insurer if your claim with the council is a success.
You can claim for pothole damage on your car insurance, but it might be more expensive than the cost of repairs.
If you’re injured after colliding with a pothole check your car insurance for personal injury cover, and speak to your insurer.
Whether you want to make a claim or not, you need to tell your insurer about the damage.
If your claim with the local authority takes a long time, or is unsuccessful, your insurer will then have a record of the damage and you can claim through them instead.
According to the 2019 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, maintaining the surface of roads helps to fight the causes of potholes, and they should be tackled once every 10 to 20 years. In England and Wales, all classes of roads are resurfaced once every 67 years.
You may find potholes on new housing estates, supermarket car parks or along private driveways. In these cases, the private road owner is legally responsible for maintaining the roads.
The road owner might have public liability insurance, which you could claim against if the road was badly maintained. If they don’t, you’ll have to claim off your own insurance.
You’ll still need to prove that the damage occurred on that road, so collect evidence and contact your insurer.
The local councils and the Highways Agency are responsible for trunk roads and motorways.
Although councils have their own monitoring and repair schedule, they can't fulfil their duty to fix potholes if they don't know about them.
Your first port of call is usually Gov.uk. Enter the postcode for the pothole’s location and they’ll tell you which local council is responsible for that piece of road and will offer links to their website.
Alternatively, there are several private websites that can help you in the reporting process.
The cycling-focused website Fill That Hole for example, asks you to report road problems using an online map – they’ll contact the right authority for you.