20 December 2012

Cyclists, potholes and the law

No rule about size to trigger liability
Every cyclist hits a pothole sometime.

If cycling on the public highway,  your local authority has a statutory responsibility to maintain and repair the road such that it is fit and safe for ordinary traffic. 

If you are injured or your bike is damaged, the starting point is to decide whether the pothole  is a probable danger to cyclists.

There are no rules about what size pothole qualifies but a court will have to be convinced that it was dangerous enough to cause an accident  in the particular circumstances: for example,  gaps around a drain cover can be a real danger to cyclists but not to a motorist.  

Local authorities can defeat pothole claims if they can convince the court that they have taken reasonable care to ensure the road was not dangerous for traffic. Therefore, the evidence that a council can bring about its inspections, repairs and maintenance programme will often be critical to the outcome of a claim. 

Compensation will be reduced for contributory fault if the court finds that a cyclists wasn’t paying enough attention to the road ahead ( and ironically, the larger the hole the more likely that a council can run a successful argument),   or if the pothole was on a familiar route, or near the cyclist’s home.

Again,  all road users are expected to take reasonable care of their own safety, and that includes keeping a look out on the road ahead. 

At Dowse & Co we have a good track record of  pursuing pothole claims and have won cases contested hard by local authorities. 

Call Patrick Spence with any queries on 0207 254 6205.