Potholes can be a huge risk for cyclists on UK roads - adding to the general danger posed by the weather conditions and traffic.

If a pothole is the cause of an accident, then the agencies responsible for maintaining the roads could be liable for the accident if they are found to have failed in their duty to maintain and fix problems on the road in good time.

In fact, there is a legal precedent for making a compensation claim against the Highways Agency. In 2009 the High Court ruled in favour of cyclist Alan Curtis and awarded him £70,000 in compensation following an accident on a road in Rickmansworth. Mr Curtis fell from his bike after hitting a pothole in the road and sustained a host of serious injuries, including a fractured skull, broken arm and damage to his brain stem which led to permanent hearing loss.

His personal injury solicitor was able to demonstrate that the pothole in question had been present on the road for at least a year before the accident - proving that the Highways Agency had failed in its duty to maintain the road to a reasonable standard.

In order to make a compensation claim on the basis of a damaged road, you need to demonstrate that:

    • The accident and subsequent injury was caused by a defect in the road surface
    • The relevant highway authority failed in its duty to repair the road

What to do after a pothole accident

If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to a pothole, it is important to document it as soon as possible. Taking pictures of the road is critical in order to prove the defect, as this could be filled in and repaired quite soon after your accident. Also take pictures of any damage to your property and your injuries, as this will also help establish your compensation claim later on.

Although potholes are very dangerous for cyclists, they also pose a risk for motorists. Hitting potholes can cause damage to cars - particularly the wheels, tyres and suspension. In extreme cases, big road defects can be a major contributing factor to road collisions - causing vehicles to lose control and change direction suddenly.

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