Potholes: reporting, damage claims and repair
Report a pothole
Pothole and debris damage claims
If your car is damaged as a result of driving over a pothole, 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.
Make a note of the precise time, date and location that the damage occurred.
Contact 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
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.
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 be you or your insurance company.
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.
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.