I have come off my bike because of a pothole in the road that is about 1.5″ deep. I have contacted the Council but they have said that they’re not liable. Is there anything that I can do?
You can’t beat photographic evidence in a case like this and so take photographs of the pothole showing the depth and width using a ruler and spirit level. For a claim to succeed the defect in the road has to be in the region of 40mm and above. This would render it suitable for immediate repair by the local authority and if it wasn’t repaired then a claim against the authority may be possible.
The Highway Authority must ensure that the highway and road surface is reasonably safe for that traffic which is to be expected to travel on it. You as a motorcyclist are within the group of road users the Highway Authority owes a duty of care to.
There is a general myth that a depression or fault in the road of more than 25 mm gives rise to liability against the Highway Authority. This, I’m afraid, is not, and has never been, a good test in law as it relates to pavements and as the House of Lord’s have made clear over the years, a defect or pothole in a Highway is relative to the risk that it poses to road users who might reasonably expect to use it.
You must ride within the circumstances which allow for changes in road surface and imperfections in the road. I have no doubt that you were in fact doing that, but that you were simply caught unawares by this particular pothole. My own view is that even with reasonable inspection, you would not be able to show that the Highway Authority was unreasonable in not ordering this relatively minor defect to be remedied. The Highway Authority has a further defence by which it can show that if they had the road in question examined, enough to comply with the relevant code of practice, which no doubt they have, then they have a further defence.
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