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Dangers Of Potholes: Why UK Roads Still Need Maintenance To Avoid Injuries

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In the news this week, Durham County Council has confirmed that its backlog of road repairs stands at almost £180m. Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm's solicitors explain more on the dangers of potholes....

According to the article, new maintenance figures were revealed this month showing the huge cost of keeping roads up to standard.  It is estimated that approximately £180m is required for the upkeep of the County’s carriageway, structures and street lights.  This figure also covered kerbs, drainage, street furniture and road markings. 

The article noted that the condition of unclassified roads are still below average – and this includes rural roads and estate roads with around 21.5% of footways classed as “structurally unsound”. 

Cllr Stuart Dunn, quoted in The Northern Echo, said: “While the council’s overall budget has been cut by a quarter of a billion pounds through austerity from 2010 to 2019/20 there has been a political change in how we have spent our money.

“In 2018 we spent £25million, in 2019 we’re going to spend £26million, if you look back at 2013 we were spending half that amount. Members have actually used the data and prioritised it.

“While the authority’s actual spending power has been declining, we have recognised this is a major issue for the people of County Durham and are choosing to invest.

“There has been that political choice for us to invest more in the roads and that’s reflected in the increase in quality. I absolutely agree that footpaths need to be next.”

Here in the personal injury department at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, we have acted for many clients who had been involved in accidents involving potholes in the road. 

Indeed one of our own solicitors was involved in an accident when the car she was driving went into the pothole in the road resulting in damage to her vehicle as well as personal injury.

She commented: “I was travelling along the A689 near Bradbury Services when I felt a huge bump and I knew that I had driven down a large hole. The vehicle in front of me also stopped and I noticed that there were a number of vehicles pulled over on the road. I discovered that my car had two flat tyres and was therefore not driveable. It became apparent that all of the vehicles which were stopped there had been damaged by the pothole.”

“I rang the police and was told that they were already aware of the problem and that patrol cars were in the area. I spoke to a policeman on the scene who informed me that there were 50 to 60 vehicles affected in total. Crucially, the pothole had purportedly been repaired the day before due to the weather, but the repair was washed away.

“As a result of this incident, I am suffering from stiffness in my neck, shoulder and back and my car is off the road. I will have an insurance policy excess to pay which is substantial and my premium will increase as a result of the claim.”

The published article also referred to regular inspections taking place to flag potential defects with repairs prioritised. In our experience, Councils categorise only those defects that they consider to be hazardous. However, whether a defect is hazardous is a matter for the inspector.

 Very often, the Council would deny that a defect is dangerous even if it was measured to be slightly less than the intervention level at 40mm or that there were several potholes causing a largely uneven surface.

Potholes are dangerous to pedestrians, cyclists and cars alike.  Pedestrians could trip over a pothole whilst crossing the road; cyclists could lose their balance as they cycle through potholes and cars could get damaged.  All of the above instances could cause a person to suffer personal injury.  This is evident in the cases that we see coming through our doors.

If you have suffered injury under these circumstances call our specialist solicitors across the North East on 0333 444 4422.

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