If your fast claim has been rejected or if the authority does not offer a fast claim option, it’s time to make a full claim. Before you get started, it’s important to know that the process will not be simple. You will have to dig a little deeper and into greater detail for your claim to be a success.
The first step you will need to take is to ask for details of the council's road repair policy and inspection history. This covers how often roads are inspected, the size of damage to be repaired and how quickly repairs should be carried out.
You can use the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to obtain the information from the authority responsible for maintaining the road the pothole was on. To submit a FOI request, you simply email the FOI department, which should be listed on the authority’s website, stating you are making a FOI request along with any questions. Using an FOI request means the authority legally has to respond within 20 working days.
When you have received the road maintenance policy and inspection logs, you will need to check what their own policy is for inspecting and repairing roads, and whether this matched what they actually did.
If you find discrepancies, such as the authority did not inspect the road as often as it should have or didn't repair it as quickly as it should have, you have a decent case.
After looking at whether the authority followed its own road maintenance and inspection policy, if the authority is a council you can also check whether the policy itself meets national standards. Councils are able to make their own rules, however there is a document called the Well-Maintained Highways Code of Practice which sets out the national standards. If you find the councils rules were inadequate, you may still be able to argue negligence.
Once you have compiled your evidence, it’s time to make your appeal. You can write to the authority and outline the evidence you have collected. Make sure you attach all the paperwork with your letter. It’s also important that you clearly state what you are owed for the repairs and explain why you believe the authority is liable.
The authority will often pay you if you can prove their negligence. However, If your claim is rejected, you do have the right to take it to a small claims court.
Don’t forget, you should always notify your insurer of any incident as soon as possible, regardless of whether you intend to claim. Your insurer will give you details on how long you have till you need to file a claim, which should hopefully give you time to see if a claim from the responsible authority will work first. It is important to be aware that if you do notify your insurer, there is a chance that your premium could be affected in the next policy year, even if you don’t actually claim.