Not all cycling accidents involve other road users. Regularly we see reports of cyclists being injured as a result of having cycled into potholes or debris resulting from the breaking up of the road. Cyclists are often faced with little or no opportunity to avoid such hazards, which crop up frequently on our roads.
The duty placed upon local authorities to keep roads free from such hazards is not a strict one, however. The law does not expect that councils immediately detect and repair any faults that arise on the roads. Rather they have a duty to inspect and maintain roads to a reasonable standard, which normally involves inspections being carried out on a periodical basis (which can be as little as once per year on certain roads) and any defects then being remedied within a reasonable period of time after being detected (which will normally depend on the extent of the defect and risk presented by it).
As a result, claims against local authorities for failing to adequately maintain roads can be difficult. There are some steps that can be taken together, however, to encourage repairs to be carried out more swiftly and to assist with those claiming for compensation should the repairs not take place and a reported defect results in an accident. Where a claim is being pursued on behalf of a cyclist, for example, who has been injured as a result of cycling into a pothole, it is always incredibly helpful to their claim if it is possible to identify that the pothole had been reported to the responsible local authority beforehand. This puts the local authority on notice that there is a potential risk of injury on the road and places a burden upon them to have it inspected and remedied, without them being able to rely upon the fact that the road was not due to be inspected prior to the accident. Most local authorities offer a relatively straightforward way of reporting road defects via their website. We would encourage all road users to consider reporting any pothole or other road defect that is encountered for the above reasons. Failure to report such defects can be viewed as a potential further pitfall, often affecting others in their subsequent claims for compensation. Please refer to our article on Potholes, local authorities' liability and what we can do for more information on this particular aspect.
Other common pitfalls that have arisen in cycling accident litigation include:
Although these pitfalls can all have potential to result in a less than full compensation recovery, it is rarely the case that all is lost in terms of a claim for compensation, should one or other of them arise. Often negotiation and legal argument will play an important part in determining the level of compensation achieved. It is therefore important to seek legal advice from a firm of specialist personal injury solicitors to provide appropriate advice and to negotiate on your behalf, should you be injured in any circumstances.
With you every step of the way.