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Personal injury and damage to property

We have a duty to make roads and other areas that we control as safe as possible, however if a road defect exists it does not in itself constitute negligence on the part of the Highway Authority.

The law

Our duty as a Highway Authority is defined in the Highways Act 1980. This Act requires a Highway Authority to maintain the highway network within its jurisdiction to a "reasonable standard". The fact that the Act only requires maintenance to a reasonable standard means that it recognises that the highway network cannot be kept in a perfect condition and that defects will arise from time to time.

The Highway Authority considers claims for financial compensation using the following criteria:

  • whether cyclical highway inspections have taken place
  • if defects were identified, were they rectified in a proper or timely fashion

Similarly if a defect was reported to us between inspections, by a member of the public, records will be checked to see if the correct actions were taken.

This is not an exhaustive list; each claim is investigated on the circumstances specific to the incident that has occurred. However, the Highway Authority can only act on that which they have knowledge of, have identified on inspection or when reported to us by a member of the public or other organisations.

Before claiming

Think carefully before you make a claim.

We investigate all claims so even the cost of us processing your request diverts money away from important frontline services. Any compensation is paid out from public money, so we will always remain robust in justifying the claim and because of the legal defence available, the majority of compensation claims are unsuccessful.

How long till it take?

The timescale for us to investigate your claim and respond to you, either accepting or denying liability is 90 days. The decision on liability will be based on the facts of your incident and the law. Ultimately only a court can decide if we are liable to pay compensation and we are therefore mindful of a court's likely interpretation of each claim when making a decision on liability. If it is considered that a court would not award compensation, then a claim will be rejected.

We investigate every claim in chronological order of when it is received and requires all claimants to confirm the location of the incident. When reporting your incident, you will need to provide information such as the date when the incident occurred, the exact location, ie outside a property number or near lamp column reference, as the more information you provide, the easier it will  be to find the defect you are reporting.

Evidence of damage or financial loss

The law requires you to keep your losses to a minimum meaning you remain responsible for arranging repairs as soon as possible. Original repair documents and receipts will always be required in support of your claim.

Claims involving damage to vehicles will be subject to the necessary checks to ensure the vehicle has current MOT, tax and insurance and you may be asked to provide such documentation. We may contact your insurance company to advise them that you have submitted a claim to us to ensure that you have also not claimed from them and we will share information with them.

Professional fees

You have the right to seek independent legal or other professional advice. It would be inappropriate for us to advise you whether or not to instruct a third party to act on your behalf. We have well-established procedures for dealing with compensation claims, which remain the same whether you make a claim directly or through a third party. Even if we accept liability for your incident, you may not be entitled to recover any professional fees incurred.

Make a claim

To report a personal injury, damage or loss phone 01634 33 33 33.