Motorist loses pothole claim due to legal loophole

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A MOTORIST has lost his claim for damages after his car hit a pothole - even though it had already been reported to the council.

Andy White, of Augustus Way, St Leonards, caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to his car after hitting a pothole filled with water on Crowhurst Road.

He filed a claim for damages with East Sussex County Council (ESCC), the authority responsible for road maintenance, in October. ESCC had already received a complaint about that pothole.

But his claim has been rejected as the Highways Act 1980 states a highway authority is not liable for damage caused to vehicles arising from defects in the highway if it can show there have been regular inspections and any defects identified have been repaired within a reasonable time.

Andy said: “The state of the roads is just getting ridiculous. They run round this rule which says that if they have had someone from the council check the road then any accidents between then and whenever, they are not liable for. That’s pretty much a get out clause.”

“If they knew there is a hole there, they should be fixing it.They said if it’s a dangerous hole it should be fixed within 24 hours. This was four-and-a-half metres long!”

Andy said a friend had recently caused £800 of damage to her car after hitting a pothole in Wheel Lane, Westfield.

Roger Williams, head of ESCC highways, said: “We cannot comment on specific cases. All claims are dealt with on an individual basis and investigated according to a set of clear legal guidelines, because any compensation payment would come from the public purse.”