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Compensation for wheels damaged beyond repair in pothole is refused by council

Claim for £250 new wheels after bike hit pothole is rejected by North Yorkshire Council

A cyclist whose bike was damaged beyond repair in a warped metal drain cover has spoken of his surprise that his claim for damages has been rejected by the local council.

Jonathan Wilson, a greengrocer, was riding close to the kerb on the A167 East Road in North Yorkshire when both of his wheels hit a pencil-shaped gap between a drain cover and the road surface.

The wheels of his bike were completely ruined, and in line with procedure for motorists who have had their cars damaged in potholes, he lodged a damages claim with North Yorkshire County Council.

Studying other drain covers, Mr Wilson argued that the one in question should have had a casting on its lip or frame to prevent exactly this type of damage.

But his claim for £250 was rejected by the highways authority, who said that there was no issue with the drain or the road.

He has also been told that the council will not send him an inspection report.

Mr Wilson told the Northern Echo: "I've been a keen cyclist for 20 years and I steer clear of rough road surfaces, but there was no way of spotting this gap until I was over it."

He added: "There's legislation protecting motorists from this sort of incident, but nothing for cyclists, it's a grey area.

"I've been told the council does not want to pay compensation as it could set a precedent, leaving it eligible for having to pay out for putting other cyclists into the danger zone or having to replace drain covers like the one I rode over.

"We have the Tour de Yorkshire coming through Northallerton in May and local authorities are pushing people to get on their bikes, yet roads in North Yorkshire are dangerous."

The council declined to comment, but a spokeswoman said: "We have a robust inspection regime in place to ensure that all actionable defects are identified and repaired.”

In 2014 we reported how a cyclist who was seriously injured when he hit a pothole in Rickmansworth sued Hertfordshire County Council because of the the council’s failure to maintain the road.

56-year-old Alan Curtis is sought between £50,000 and £100,000 after being left with hearing and nerve problems, short-term memory loss and a broken arm after the crash.

Mr Curtis was training with two friends for a charity bike ride across India in October 2009 when he hit the pothole in The Drive, Rickmansworth.

He was thrown from his bike, hitting his head on the road and smashing his helmet on one side.

His lawyer Kevin O’Sullivan, of Levenes solicitors, said: “This highlights how devastating a pothole can be to a cyclist, and how important it is that a local authority does what the 1980 Highways Act obliges it to do, and look after the road properly.”

Eventually he was awarded nearly £70,000 in damages. His claim stated the pothole could be seen on a Google Street View image from October 2008, but the council failed to note it and order its repair during a scheduled inspection the following March.

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16 comments

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Trekpro | 6 years ago
0 likes

Issue a claim.  They'll settle rather than risk a precedent. Works around here anyway.

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jthef | 7 years ago
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I,ve got a claim in now with Lancashire CC, waiting at the moment for a response.

But 2 years ago trashed 2 wheels on a pothole in Cumbria and they paid out for the repair. Took 9 months but took photos befor reporting and kept the rims untill complete.

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1961BikiE | 7 years ago
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A letter to a friend of mine from our local council's insurers was basically that the council survey all their roads every 30 days. They can only be held responsible for any "potholes" that are thus reported. Any new ones that appear are not covered.

My friend took it no further, he was claiming for a new rim and rebuild, no claim for injury due to his fall.

My main bone of contention was that I do not believe that any council has the resource to survey all the roads that they are responsible for once a year let alone monthly. I suspect most pothole repairs are raised after reports from the public.

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bendertherobot replied to 1961BikiE | 7 years ago
1 like

1961BikiE wrote:

A letter to a friend of mine from our local council's insurers was basically that the council survey all their roads every 30 days. They can only be held responsible for any "potholes" that are thus reported. Any new ones that appear are not covered. My friend took it no further, he was claiming for a new rim and rebuild, no claim for injury due to his fall. My main bone of contention was that I do not believe that any council has the resource to survey all the roads that they are responsible for once a year let alone monthly. I suspect most pothole repairs are raised after reports from the public.

I'd be surprised if they surveyed ALL of them every 30 days, including B roads and lanes.

But, it's quite true that they can defend a claim. It's all about section 58 of the Highways Act.

Basically, as long as they take all reasonable steps then they are not liable.

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Dnnnnnn replied to bendertherobot | 7 years ago
0 likes

bendertherobot wrote:

1961BikiE wrote:

A letter to a friend of mine from our local council's insurers was basically that the council survey all their roads every 30 days. They can only be held responsible for any "potholes" that are thus reported. Any new ones that appear are not covered. My friend took it no further, he was claiming for a new rim and rebuild, no claim for injury due to his fall. My main bone of contention was that I do not believe that any council has the resource to survey all the roads that they are responsible for once a year let alone monthly. I suspect most pothole repairs are raised after reports from the public.

I'd be surprised if they surveyed ALL of them every 30 days, including B roads and lanes.

But, it's quite true that they can defend a claim. It's all about section 58 of the Highways Act.

Basically, as long as they take all reasonable steps then they are not liable.

Agreed.

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Dnnnnnn replied to 1961BikiE | 7 years ago
1 like

1961BikiE wrote:

I do not believe that any council has the resource to survey all the roads that they are responsible for once a year let alone monthly. I suspect most pothole repairs are raised after reports from the public.

All the more reason t report them... www.fillthathole.org.uk

Avatar
bendertherobot | 7 years ago
1 like

Why do we still have 4 pictures of Essex potholes that are a) in Essex not Yorkshire and b) are absolutely different to the defect complained of?

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wycombewheeler | 7 years ago
1 like

More concerning that they consider there is no issue. If a cyclist is seriously injured at this location in the future, action should be taken against the inspector and the council officer involved.

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Mr S Remington | 7 years ago
0 likes

I don't know why the poor chap is surprised, most local authorities are utter lowlife.

 

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mrmo | 7 years ago
0 likes

i tried to claim off gloucestershire county council, hit a raised man hole cover and trashed a wheel in the process, the wheel was beyond repair. 

 

Council refused to pay out, but they actually fixed the problem, which was all i really wanted done so didn't pursue. 

Used freedom of information to demand all inspection records, and all complaints for the road, both existed they had just chosen to ignore!

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Peeler | 7 years ago
2 likes

Small claims court
It will cost them more to defend it and they will pay out as although only cases in the High Court set true legal precedent they won't want the risk of someone being able to quote a previous citation that the council lost.

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bendertherobot replied to Peeler | 7 years ago
0 likes

Peeler wrote:

Small claims court It will cost them more to defend it and they will pay out as although only cases in the High Court set true legal precedent they won't want the risk of someone being able to quote a previous citation that the council lost.

Probably. If it's about Section 41 and 58 then it's easy enough. If it's about negligent design it could raise a question of law/expertise that causes the case to be bumped into the fast track because of its complexity. If that happens there would be costs if you lost.

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pjc67@hotmail.co.uk | 7 years ago
3 likes

As a public authority I'd have thought they should have to release any inspection report in response to a Freedom of Information request 

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Magic replied to pjc67@hotmail.co.uk | 7 years ago
0 likes

pjc67 wrote:

As a public authority I'd have thought they should have to release any inspection report in response to a Freedom of Information request 

 

 

This ^^^^^^^^.  Post 2008 all local authorities and public bodies have to release information on request in response to a freedom of information request ( They can charge you a£10 for the privelage but they cannot deny the information )

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bendertherobot | 7 years ago
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It's not ideal. But it's not an ideal world. We changed drain designs a while back to avoid this stuff but there's still poor design out there.

This case is, legally, a bit of a struggle. It's not really a Highways Act claim in the sense that it's not really about a duty to repair.  It's not a pothole at all, that's a pretty disingenous headline. 

He says the drain cover has warped. I have no idea what he's talking about. It's a design. A poor one, possibly. But it is what it is. 

You'd have to be extraordinarily unlucky to hit that at such speed, with such force, and such god like alignment to kill both wheels. 

It's not ideal. But this is why we cycle further out.

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maldin | 7 years ago
4 likes

If it doesn't damage a car, it's not a problem. Roads are meant for cars only. And it cheaper to pay solicitors to write letters denying claims than it is to fix potholes. Sarcasm intended! 

Around my area it appears that the council do try repair potholes but they only ever seem to patch them. Every year exactly the same potholes break up and they need to be repaired again. Ticket to wealth? A tender contract to fill in the same potholes they need to be refilled year after year! 

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