Council reveals payouts for pothole damage and injuries

A pothole in West Sussex pictured by Eddie Mitchell SUS-180327-091839001
A pothole in West Sussex pictured by Eddie Mitchell SUS-180327-091839001

Blindness in one eye, internal bleeding on the brain and broken bones were some of the injuries caused by potholes in West Sussex leading to payouts of more than £79,000 in personal injury claims, it has emerged.

In a written question posed on Friday, Labour county councillor Brian Quinn described how many of the county’s roads are in an ‘appalling state, being either riddled with potholes or suffering from crumbling edges’.

He went on to describe how he appreciated this is as a result of the recent bad weather conditions, but asked if extra money would be made available to speed up repairs.

Mr Quinn asked for details of the number of claims relating to pothole damage in the last three winters paid out by West Sussex County Council.

For the period between November 2017 and February this year a total of £8,474 has been paid out so far, compared to £17,905.03 the year before, and £22,075.74 from November 2015 to February 2016.

However the last figure excludes two personal injury claims caused by potholes totalling £79,237.86.

The first incident which took place in December 2015 resulted in blindness in the right eye, heavy cuts and bruising to the face, internal bleeding on the brain, a fractured cheek bone, a fractured eye socket and a head injury.

To date the council has paid out £18,706.73 for this claim.

The second in November 2015 led to a broken collar bone, arm, vertebrae and ribs. The payout totalled £60,964.13 of which £400 was for property damage.

Claims relating to potholes over the last three winters included damaged tyres, wheels and suspension.

The largest payout for damage was £6,231.55 in January 2017 where the front left wheel was damaged causing a blowout, rim damage and torn mudguard. The vehicle’s geometry also had to be assessed.

In a written answer the cabinet member explained that extra money had been made available to deploy three extra pothole gangs from the middle of April.

Balfour Beatty currently holds the highways contract in West Sussex, but this is due to end in June.

However the council is addressing ‘legal and technical difficulties’ which has prevented it awarding a new contract.

Following our Pothole Watch campaign, this week the council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure Bob Lanzer thanked both readers for their feedback and staff for their hard work.

He said: “The county’s roads have suffered from the lengthy spell of cold/freezing temperatures and mild/wet weather. Unfortunately, roads deteriorate faster due to the expansion and contraction caused by this weather, resulting in new potholes being formed.

“In the last fortnight we have repaired more than 2,000 potholes. These repairs are carried out on a priority basis, which considers safety implications, location, size and depth.

“I am pleased to report that we have been awarded an additional £1,594,870 from the Department for Transport’s Pothole Action Fund for this financial year.

“Our initial focus will be to allocate additional gangs to undertake preventative repair work in areas where damage has been identified and could become a safety issue.

“I would like to assure residents we undertake regular inspections of the roads and also respond to reports from staff who have identified problems whilst travelling around the county.”

To report defects on roads and pavements use the Love West Sussex app or visit the website here.