If you’ve driven on UK roads for even the shortest length of time, then you’ll be familiar with the notorious pothole. This phenomenon causes the surface of a small (or often, a large) section of the tarmac to collapse, which is bad news for anyone unfortunate enough to drive over the top of the resulting crater.
What is a pothole?
There’s a distinction to be drawn between potholes and the kinds of holes you might encounter elsewhere. The sides of a pothole tend to be steep, which makes them very damaging. This is thanks to the unique way that they’re formed.
What causes potholes
Potholes are not worn into the surface of the road by erosion. Rather, they’re a result of the underlying ground being worn away to the extent that the tarmac suddenly collapses.
Rainwater will, over time, penetrate the surface of the road, through cracks. Eventually, the water will find its way to the base of the road surface, softening it up. But it isn’t until winter that the real damage occurs. Because water expands as it freezes, the road will end up getting pushed upward from beneath. Then, when traffic passes over the resulting hump, the road will fragment.
When the sun comes back around, it will literally bake the surface of the road. The water will evaporate, and the weight of the road will cause it to fall into the resulting hole.
What damage can potholes create?
Potholes can inflict considerable damage, not only on the vehicles that drive into them, but onto the occupants of those vehicles.
Damage to the car tends to come in the form of suspension and alignment problems. The tyres themselves might also suffer a blowout. In some cases, motorists have successfully sued councils for failing to repair roads. This kind of legal action only tends to succeed, however, when blame can be established. In other words, you’ll need to demonstrate that your local authority was aware of the problem and neglected to fix it in a reasonable timeframe.
Whether you’re claiming for damages to your car, or for personal injury, it makes sense to get a specialist solicitor onside. They’ll tend to proceed on a no-win, no-fee basis, which will limit the risk of your legal action.
What injuries can potholes inflict?
If you go over a pothole fast enough, then you might suffer fairly severe whiplash. That’s before we consider the knock-on effects, like a loss of control of your vehicle. Potentially, this can cause a huge amount of damage. For motorcyclists and cyclists, the risk is considerable. You might be thrown from the saddle, which can cause serious injury and even death. Vigilance is, therefore, essential, especially when you’re travelling at speed along an unfamiliar route. Appropriate head protection might spell the difference between life and death – so make sure that you’re wearing it. In the case of motorcyclists, it’s the law