Compensation claim for pothole damage

Pothole problems
Pothole problems

A Pebsham driver who was refused compensation for damage to her car has received an apology from East Sussex County Council which admits it “made a mistake.”

Laura Button complained about £200 worth of damage to a wheel that needed replacing having hit a pothole in Pebsham Lane in mid-January.

She was furious to be turned down in her claim for compensation and informed that the road was inspected every six months and had been fine at the last inspection in August.

As no one had reported a defect since then, ESCC decided it was not at fault.

However there has been a turnaround since the Observer contacted the county council and a spokesman admitted the county council had fallen short of its standards, commenting: “As compensation claims are paid from public money it’s important that we carefully assess whether a claim should be paid.

“Around 70 per cent of claims are rejected because the council carried out its duty either by inspecting the road frequently enough or repairing the pothole quickly enough once we were informed of it.

“In this instance, the case was investigated by our external claims handler and based on the information we provided a decision was taken that this claim would not be paid.

“However, after reviewing this case, it has become apparent that the council made a mistake in its assessment and that during an extremely busy period we didn’t meet our own high standards in terms of our timescales for repairing the pothole in question.

“In light of this we have reviewed our earlier decision and will be contacting Ms Button to make an offer of compensation and would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. We will also be reviewing other cases which relate to this stretch of road.

“We have repaired more than 13,000 potholes so far this year and will continue to ensure we have robust processes in place which balance the need to fix potholes within our policy timescales and the need to investigate claims fully to protect the public purse.”

It has since been announced that more than £50 million will spent on repairing roads in East Sussex over the next two years following the wettest winter on record.

The unprecedented level of rainfall in recent months has taken its toll on the 2,000 miles of roads across East Sussex and the county council has put aside additional funds to address the damage caused by the winter weather.