Crumbling Road Network – Who pays in the long run?
After the the glorious temperatures of the summer, where we saw the tarmac on roads melting in the heat, winter is almost upon us and dropping temperatures will soon create a crumbling road network and even more potholes appearing. Damaged roads and pavements inevitably result in more accidents where people are injured and seek compensation.A report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance [AIA] earlier this year highlighted that it would cost £ 10.5 billion to repair all the potholes and Local Authorities in England and Wales filled in more than two million potholes in 2012. The cost was £ 113 million but they paid out £ 32 million in compensation claims for people that suffered as a result of tripping accidents.
It’s a vicious circle because the public do not want to see their Council Tax bills increase and the Local Authorities point out that the cost of repairing these potholes has to come from somewhere and that might mean higher Council Tax bills for all of us. If the Local Authorities make a commercial decision not to make repairs to roads a priority the number of claims from people injured inevitably increases. A balance has to be reached!
Local Authorities have an obligation to maintain our road networks to a reasonable standard but some events which create these defects are beyond their control. Damage to the roads from the rainfall alone last year will cost £ 338 million and this could not have been planned for even with a healthy reserve fund. There are critics of the compensation culture where people feel that Local Authorities should not, as a matter of policy, have to pay compensation to those injured as a result of tripping on an uneven pavement or in a pothole.
The perspective is somewhat different if you’ve suffered an injury as a result of tripping in a pothole or a broken paving slab and your life has changed in an instant. When you’re being treated in A&E for an injury that could take several months to heal you’ll inevitably start thinking about how this event is going to cause you a multitude of problems. You may not be able to work for several weeks and this could be made worse if you are informed by your employers that they will only be paying you SSP. You might have a family at home, you may be the only breadwinner, and when the money starts to run out you have that added worry about paying your mortgage and other household bills. However, remember that you’re also an innocent victim who may have been injured as a result of the negligence of someone else. If that’s the case you are entitled to be compensated for the pain, suffering and loss of income that will flow from your accident.