UK

Most motorway driver pothole claims fail to win payment

A car driving past a pothole
Image caption Many drivers who claimed for pothole compensation have been rejected

Only one in nine drivers who claimed compensation for damage caused by motorway potholes over the past year was successful, the BBC has learned.

Of 382 claims for compensation by drivers using the motorway network in England and Wales, just 40 of those claims were paid out.

The figures were obtained by a Freedom of Information request made to the Highways Agency.

A spokesman for the agency said any defects are "quickly repaired".

The M1 had the most claims for compensation - 49 - due to potholes, but only five motorists received a payment.

The M56 has had the most claims for any motorway in England and Wales. Although it is only 56 miles long it had 31 claims made, and payments were made on 12 of these - working out as one compensation claim paid out due to potholes for every five miles.

Duncan McClure Fisher, of the potholes.co.uk website, said an increasing number of frustrated drivers are contacting the site, because they are having difficulty getting money from both the highways agency and local authorities.

He also described the current structure for claims as "not fair at the moment".

He said: "We do have lots of stories on our website which shows it's been difficult to get the claim paid.

"If they were given information which told them 'this is what you've got to do to make your claim' then I think you've got a fair structure for the council and the driver."

The Highways Agency and councils both say the motorist has to provide evidence that their car was damaged by a pothole.

Both also state that if they have monitored the condition of the road and repaired holes promptly, then they are not liable to pay out.

Claims investigated

Councils say they have filled in hundreds of thousands of potholes and paid out £30m in compensation.

But, according to the BBC's Graham Satchell there are many who now say the process is complicated, time consuming and bureaucratic.

In a statement, a Highways Agency spokesman said it constantly monitored and maintained the motorways and major A roads "to ensure that they are in a safe condition".

He added: "We thoroughly investigate any compensation claims and deal with them fairly and on their own merits. It is for the driver to provide evidence that damage was caused to their vehicle by a pothole.

"If maintenance records show that the road was properly maintained and there is no evidence of a defect, then it is right that we deny the claim.

"When we award Managing Agent Contractor (MAC) contracts, the companies tendering include the cost of routine and emergency road surface repair as part of their bid. As such, these repairs are carried out at no additional cost to the taxpayer."

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