The importance of reporting defects in public roads and pavements


How often do you walk or drive past defects in the road or pavement? How often do you do something about it? Very few people are likely to take steps to report the defect to the Council.


The main reason for reporting defects is to bring the issue to the attention of the Council and to get the defect repaired, ideally before an accident occurs eg as whilst some accident injuries may be minor bumps and bruises a major road defect could cause serious injuries to a cyclist or motorbike rider.

Whenever a defect is reported, a record will be made of the complaint. It is possible that the defect will not be repaired for whatever reason but a record will still have been made of the complaint, showing that it has been brought to the Council’s attention. This means that if an accident does then occur, there is evidence that the Council were put on notice of the defect and that they did not take steps to repair the defect.

Council’s are likely to have in place a system of inspection for noting defects but this can be as little as a driven inspection once per year. The Council are only required to note defects which exceed their “intervention levels” which is most likely to be in line with the national code of practice. This means that a defect which is just slightly short of the intervention level could go unrepaired for a further year during which time it is likely to deteriorate.

The Council will often seek to argue in personal injury claims either that a defect was not actionable at the time of their last inspection or that they were not aware of the defect until after the accident occurred. This highlights the importance of evidence, and the reporting of defects can form an essential part of that evidence as it means that it can be shown the Council were in fact aware of a defect and possibly did not act on that information.

Photographs showing specific measurements are also key evidence in highway tripping claims. These can help us to show that the defect was actionable and we would be able to prove the depth. If an inspection has just taken place, for example, and no defects were noted, photographs taken around the time of the inspection with measurements showing that they were in fact actionable can assist in pursuing a personal injury claim for injuries sustained as a result of an accident on the highway (eg public footpath or road).

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