If you suffer injury or damage to your property because of a highway defect, the law says that there is no automatic right to compensation and provides councils with a defence to claims which we are obliged to use.
Completing a claim form is not considered notification of a defect. Find out about reporting road maintenance defects here.
By law, we have to maintain all highways for which we are responsible. Our inspection process exceeds national standards. The law sets out what is meant by maintenance, and some things are excluded, such as keeping a road free of mud.
If you think we have failed to maintain the highway, you will have to prove this by showing that:
- the highway has not been maintained appropriately with regard to its importance and use and was therefore dangerous
- that this was the direct cause of the incident and that you have suffered a loss as a result
Even if you can prove these things, we will not have to compensate you if we can demonstrate that we took all reasonable steps to ensure the highway was safe. This means that all inspections and repairs had been carried out as planned or reported. Where we have fulfilled our duty to inspect and repair but are unaware of a defect related to your incident - usually when it has appeared since the last inspection and we have not been notified - we are not legally liable.
Making a claim
Please think carefully before making a claim. Any compensation is paid from public money and we must protect the public funds we handle. The cost of investigating unsuccessful or fraudulent claims diverts money away from important front line services.
All claims received are investigated. Unfortunately incidents do occur, however, very few are actually attributable to negligence on the part of the highway authority. The majority of claims brought against North Yorkshire Council are successfully defended.
You should be aware that we check all claims to prevent fraud and your details may be shared with other organisations to carry out further checks.
How to make a claim
You must complete the highway claim application form in full. You need to include:
- the exact location of the incident
- the time, date and weather conditions
- direction of travel, by foot or vehicle
- a sketch of the location and photographs, which you must include along with your original claim form
- why you believe we are responsible
- original invoices for repairs
- where possible, invoices for the original purchase of the damaged item
We will consider the application, look at our own evidence and, if we agree that we are liable, will make you an offer based on the level of injury or value of damaged items. If we do not agree, you will be told in writing and provided with an explanation of the decision.
If you need more advice, your local Citizens Advice Bureau and solicitors can help.