There have been more than 1,500 successful claims taken for damage to vehicles caused by potholes in the past three years according to an article in the Irish News.
It means that two out of every three claims lodged against the department for Regional Development’s (DRD) Road Service for compensation since 2012 has resulted in a pay-out. The number of claims settled has almost halved since 2013/14, when there were 737 pay-outs directly linked to damage caused by potholes.
The figures, which showed there were 2,461 claims received and 1,643 settled in the three year period from 2012, were released in response to an assembly question from the ulster Unionist West Tyrone MLA Ross Hussey.
In response to a separate question by SDLP South Belfast MLA Fearghal McKinney, the DRD said it had repaired almost 60,000 carriageway surface defects, including potholes, across the north in the last 12 months.
In September last year the department said 18,600 defects had yet to be repaired. The DRD has also confirmed that it spent just over £355,000 on the road maintenance in the past three years.
Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen said:
“My Department thoroughly investigates every claim for compensation that it receives to establish whether or not it has defence to the allegations. She added: “Claims received by my department in a financial year are not always concluded in the same financial year. This is because inter alia, claims which are rejected may result in legal proceedings being issues.
“In 2013 The Irish News reported that almost £4 million in compensation claims had been paid out by the Road Service to motorists and pedestrians in four years, including substantial pay-outs for tripping on kerbstones, tree roots and even grass.
One Claimant received £135,000 pay-out after being injured on a flagged pavement, while two others received £50,000 each after being injured on potholes.
Top Tips if your Car is damaged by a Pot Hole:
1: Put on your hazard lights and stop your vehicle where safe to do so.
2: Check for damage to your wheels and tyres. If your vehicle shows signs of vibrations or feels like it’s pulling to the side call your recovery provider as more extensive damage can be caused by continuing to drive. 3: Record your direction of travel and exact location.
4: If safe to do so take several photographs from different distances. If you have any objects in your vehicle such as a water bottle, position these inside the pothole to show perspective of the depth and width.
5: Report any defect immediately. This can be done on the nidirect website.
6: Take your vehicle to a reputable garage for repairs and wheel alignment. If applicable ask them to note the cause of damage on your invoice. Keep all documentation in relation to your vehicle repairs, including quotes, receipts, invoices etc.
7: Ask neighbours in the area if they are aware of how long the defect has been present.
8: Check Google maps online to see if the defect was there when the area was last photographed.
This can be helpful if Transport NI allege that the defect was present only recently. How to make a claim to Transport NI:
• A claim can be made by completing a form available on the ni direct website: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/claim-for-vehicle-damage-compensation-form.pdf
• Send along with photographs, receipts and estimates together with a sketch indicating the location to Transport NI; all contact details available on their website.
• Transport NI will investigate your claim within 6 months of receipt. They may instruct an investigator or loss adjustor.
• If your claim is successful they will offer you a sum of money. A cheque to your home address will follow.
• If you are unhappy with the offer made, or if rejected altogether you can bring your case before a court.
This can be a risky, expensive and time consuming process and therefore it is important to seek legal advise to assess your prospects of success. You will be unable to present a claim in court for personal injuries after 3 years have elapsed from the date of incident, and for vehicle damage after 6 years.
Credit to Una O’Neill, JMK Solicitors