Potholes: reporting, damage claims and repair

Report a pothole

To report a defect, such as a pot­hole, or debris on our road net­work please call us stat­ing the exact location.

We do ask that you call rather than email as at busy times, and par­tic­u­larly in win­ter, it will help us to deal with the issue more quickly.

Pot­hole and debris damage

If your car is dam­aged as a result of dri­ving over a pot­hole or from debris on the road, please call us to report the pot­hole to us straight away.

Pot­hole and debris claims

You may wish to obtain advice as to whether you have a legal claim. Please be aware that there is usu­ally a charge for legal advice. This will not be recov­er­able if your claim fails. Even if you are suc­cess­ful in your claim you might not recover all or any of your legal expenses.

All claims are dealt with in accor­dance with Sec­tions 41 and 58 of the High­way Act 1980.

Mak­ing a claim

Com­pen­sa­tion is not an auto­matic right — we are funded pub­li­cally by you, the tax payer, so we only set­tle claims where there is a clear legal liability.

The large major­ity of claims brought against us are unsuccessful.

  • We aim to react promptly to reports of debris on the road but can­not be held respon­si­ble for the actions of third par­ties using our net­work. Debris-related claims will not be successful.
  • The courts in Eng­land have con­sis­tently ruled that it is unre­al­is­tic to expect high­ways to be per­fect and that faults such as pot­holes are inevitable.
  • It is rare that vehi­cle dam­age can be attrib­uted to neg­li­gence on the part of the high­way authority.

Step 1

Make a note of the pre­cise time, date and loca­tion that the dam­age occurred.

Check our net­work map — if we do not main­tain the road we will not be liable and you will need to con­tact the local high­way author­ity with your claim instead.

Step 2

Call us with details of your claim. Please do NOT pro­vide sup­port­ing evi­dence at this stage.

You will need to be able to demonstrate:

  • that dam­age was caused to your vehi­cle by a road sur­face defect AND
  • that the high­way author­ity failed in its statu­tory duty to keep the road safe

Step 3

The details of your inci­dent will be passed to our ded­i­cated claims team who will assess them and respond to you within 15 days explain­ing what you should do next.

Step 4

If you are invited to sub­mit a for­mal claim, the claims team will advise you on the sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion you will need to pro­vide.
You may be asked to provide:

  • copies of repair invoices and proof of payment
  • cur­rent MOT cer­tifi­cate if applicable
  • pho­tos of the dam­age claimed

You will NOT need to pro­vide main­te­nance and inspec­tion logs.

  • The claims team already have access to these logs and use them in their inves­ti­ga­tions as a mat­ter of course
  • Request­ing these logs under the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion (FOI) Act as some web­sites rec­om­mend is unnec­es­sary and may slow down your claim
  • The claims team will issue the rel­e­vant doc­u­ments to you if your claim is refused to help you under­stand their decision.

Do not revisit the scene to gather pho­tographs and mea­sure­ments as this would be highly dan­ger­ous on a motor­way or trunk road. Unau­tho­rised tres­pass on the motor­way net­work is a crim­i­nal offence.

As a gov­ern­ment body we can­not assess or inspect dam­age to vehi­cles or arrange repair works. This should be done by you or your insur­ance company.

Step 5

The team will deal with your claim as quickly as pos­si­ble. Please note that we oper­ate under the terms of the Woolf Pro­to­col, which allows a period of 90 days to pro­vide a deci­sion on lia­bil­ity for your claim.

Pot­hole repair

The High­ways Agency is respon­si­ble for key motor­ways and trunk roads in Eng­land. We are required to take all rea­son­able steps to ensure that the roads we main­tain are ser­vice­able and safe to use.  Pot­holes are repaired as part of our over­all main­te­nance regime and may involve patch­ing works or resur­fac­ing sec­tions of road.