March 21, 2016
Blackpool Council is denying liability in a pothole injury compensation claim on the grounds that the pothole on which the plaintiff tripped was too small.
In December last year, Blackpool resident Barbara Fielding (53) was walking her dog along Windermere Road when she tripped on a pothole and fell badly. Barbara sustained multiple cuts and bruises as a result of her fall, and underwent a CT scan at the Blackpool Victoria Hospital to identify any signs of brain damage.
Fortunately, Barbara suffered no internal injury as a result of her accident but, for the next five weeks, spent much of her time in bed suffering from depression. Barbara took photographs of her injuries and sent them to Blackpool Council to support a pothole injury compensation claim. However, the council denied it was liable for her injuries due to the pothole not being sufficiently deep enough to qualify for compensation.
In a written reply to Barbara´s pothole injury compensation claim, Blackpool Council explained that regular inspections of the town´s roads are conducted, and any pothole with a depth of 40mm or more reported and repaired. The council claims that Windermere Road had been inspected in June 2015, and no potholes were identified as needing repair at the time.
Speaking to her local newspaper, Barbara expressed her disappointment at the council´s denial of liability. “They say the hole isn’t big enough to be considered a pothole – but how big does a hole have to be?” Barbara told the Blackpool Gazette, “They know the extent of the injuries I had because they’ve got the photographs”. Barbara is now considering whether or not to take formal legal action.
Editor´s Note: In Pitman v. Southern Electricity Board (1978), the claimant´s pothole injury compensation claim was decided on the length of time that a pothole has presented a risk of injury in relation to the volume of foot traffic on the road where it is located. The claimant was awarded compensation even though the pothole on which she tripped was just 3mm in depth.