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Team Sky manager Fran Millar wins pothole claim against Oldham Council for broken cheek, jaw, fingers & missing teeth

Hole caused by road works felled

Fran Millar, head of business operations for Team Sky and sister of Garmin-Sharp pro ride David Millar, has successfully claimed for compensation against against Oldham Council after hitting a pothole left her with a broken cheek, jaw, fingers and missing teeth.

Fran was was riding along Oldham High Street on 1 May 2010 when she swerved to miss a pothole in the road. But as she tried to avoid one pothole, she rode into an even larger one caused by previous roadworks.

She was thrown from her bike, landed heavily on her face and hand and was knocked unconscious. Witnesses to the crash helped Fran and she was taken to hospital where medics found extensive injuries to her face and hands.

Through her British Cycling membership Fran Millar’s case was taken up by Penny Knight of law firm Leigh Day. Penny successfully obtained damages from Oldham Council to compensate Fran for time off work, her injuries and the damage to her bike.

The amount of Fran's compensation is confidential, but similar cases in the last few years have resulted in four-figure pay-outs. In 2009 Ian Davis was paid £7,600 by West Berkshire County Council after he hit a pothole and sustained broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and hip and knee injuries. In 2010, Kenneth Atkinson received an out-of-court settlement of more than £6,000 from Kent County Council for a badly dislocated shoulder.

Fran is back on her bike and this summer rode the 198km Etape du Tour.

“I feel extremely lucky to be back on my bike again with both my physical and mental scars healed or healing,” she said.

“A crash like this happens so suddenly it can shake your entire confidence on the bike, one minute you are cycling along the next you’re being wheeled into an accident and emergency department.

“More people need to be encouraged to ride their bikes. We are now a cycling nation and councils must make sure that we can all enjoy the road safely. Had I not hit the pothole caused by these road works I would have been forced out into the road into the path of motorists. Having safe roads benefits everyone.”

Penny Knight said: “It was clear that the damage to the road, which caused this crash, was a result of poor resurfacing after the road had been dug up by the council for works to underground pipes.

“We all pay for the upkeep of the roads through our council tax and income tax, councils therefore have an obligation to ensure all roads are suitable and safe for all users.”

If you encounter a dangerous pothole - and is there any other kind - we recommend  using the CTC's Fill That Hole tool to report it. 

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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