Motorist injured by pothole wins £1.1m payout

Damage to a road after heavy rain - Chris Howe/Alamy Stock Photo
Damage to a road after heavy rain - Chris Howe/Alamy Stock Photo

A Welsh motorist has secured more than £1 million in compensation after being injured by a pothole, in what is thought to be one of the biggest payouts of its kind.

The Labour-run Welsh Government was forced to pay the £1.1million sum following a four-year legal battle with the unnamed driver.

The figure was released through a Freedom of Information request made to the Welsh Government which is responsible for maintaining large trunk roads and motorways in Wales.

No details of the incident were given, including the driver’s name or injuries, apart from the fact that the claim was made in 2018-19 and paid out last year.

The Freedom of Information request showed that, in total, the Welsh Government settled 11 claims for pothole-related vehicle damage and two claims for personal injury.

However, the £1.1million sum was far higher than the average payout, which stood at just £1,077.

The details come as the country battles a pothole crisis, with the number of damaged roads on the rise.

Last week, a survey carried out by FindOutNow for The Telegraph found that more than eight in 10 respondents had seen the number of potholes increase in their area, with only 6 per cent having noticed a reduction.

The RAC warned that the situation could get worse because of the weather conditions experienced over the last year.

Nicholas Lyes, the head of roads policy at RAC, said: “The wet weather we’ve had both before and after the coldest start to winter in 12 years in December is the perfect recipe for potholes to start peppering the roads.

“We fear that by the spring, drivers will be plagued by a plethora of potholes across the country’s roads which makes journeys uncomfortable and frustrating or, worse still, could lead to very expensive garage repair bills.”

The growing number of craters is also leading to more damaged cars, with both the AA and RAC saying they have seen a major uptick in the amount of pothole-related callouts they have seen, compared with last year.

The AA said they had seen nearly a third more callouts in April when compared with the same month in 2022, with more than 50,000 cars impacted.

Under the Highways Act, local authorities and highways agencies have a legal obligation to maintain their roads, and drivers are able to claim if it is found that an authority has been negligent.

The most successful claims are for those potholes that have been reported to the council but have failed to be fixed before the incident that damaged a car took place.

Falling repair numbers

Recent research conducted by Citroën found that, in the last year, councils in England and Wales had paid out £22.7 million in pothole compensation, with more than £139 million paid out since 2017.

The car manufacturer estimated that this was enough money to fill 340,000 potholes, while the cash received since 2017 was enough to fill 2.3 million potholes.

Last week, exclusive data for The Telegraph revealed that the amount of money local councils had spent on filling potholes in the last eight years had dropped by a third to just £96million. The number of potholes filled also fell from 2.7 million in 2015, to 1.4 million last year.

It was also revealed that councils were choosing cheaper quick fixes for pothole repairs, which can sometimes last only a matter of weeks, as they face funding pressures and obligations to keep their roads safe.

The latest annual pothole survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance estimated that it would now cost £12.6 billion to fix potholes on all of England’s local roads, and take nine years to clear. It also reported that a fifth of all local roads would become undriveable in the next five years unless action is taken.

The Welsh Government has been contacted for comment.