Claims due to road defects


This information on the webpage does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a comprehensive statement of law. You're entitled to seek independent legal advice at any stage of your claim.

If you've had an accident due to a road defect, you may be able to claim compensation.

There's no automatic right to compensation, and just because an accident has happened it does not necessarily mean that we (the council) will be liable.

Before making a claim against us, you should consider the likelihood of your claim being successful. To have a successful claim, you must demonstrate that there has been a breach of the appropriate law by us, and that you've suffered an injury or loss as a result.

The following information explains some of the relevant legal background to highways claims and the claims process.

What does the law say?

The relevant legislation is the Highways Act 1980 (‘the Act’).

Under Section 41 of the Act, we have a duty to maintain the highway to a standard appropriate to the traffic volumes and use.

Section 58 of the Act provides us with a "special defence" for damage or injury claims arising from the condition of the road, if it can show we've taken reasonable steps to maintain the road.

The council’s highway maintenance system

We're responsible for over 975km of road and 1500km of footway within the borough.

We have a system of regular inspection, maintenance and repair. You can find more information on our Code of Practice webpage.

Routine safety inspections are carried out by trained officers at frequencies and by means appropriate for the category of the highway. The purpose of these inspections is to identify all defects likely to create danger or serious inconvenience to users of the network or the wider community. In addition to the routine safety inspections, we operate a system of responding reactively to complaints and reports from members of the public.

We use a risk-based approach when assessing defects, but we adopt the below minimum investigation levels:

  • 25mm on a road
  • 40mm on a carriageway

We consider many factors when investigating alleged defects that might have the potential to create danger or serious inconvenience.

How will the council deal with my claim?

All claims will be dealt with in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules 1998, which is the legal framework applying to civil claims.

Once you've submitted your claim online, the insurance team will check the information submitted is sufficient. If they require any clarification or additional information to allow us to investigate fully, the claims handler will contact you.

Please be aware that all cases for which we have a correctly and fully completed report form are thoroughly investigated, and this can be a lengthy process. We aim to acknowledge receipt within 21 days of receiving a claim and reach a decision on liability 90 days thereafter.

When we've finished our investigations, we'll tell you whether we admit or deny liability for your claim. It may be that someone else is responsible for causing the incident or that the place where it happened is the responsibility of others. If this is the case, we'll let you know and your claim should be against them, not us.

How will my claim be decided?

The legal burden of proof rests with you, as the Claimant, to establish breach of statutory duty. You must prove that your accident was caused by a dangerous defect. If you can prove the defect was dangerous at the time of your accident, this does not mean we will be liable.

We may be able to rely upon the special defence contained at Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980. This defence will be appropriate where we can show from its records that at the time of the last inspection before the incident, the defect was not present or not considered to be dangerous.

All claims are assessed individually and fairly. We'll only settle claims where there's a clear legal liability. Where we are liable, we'll seek to settle the claim as quickly as possible. Where we are not liable, we'll maintain a robust denial, to court if required.

Important information

Before making a claim, you must read the information below.

Reporting defects

To notify us of a defect in the highway, you can report the defect online.

If the defect is an immediate danger, call 0161 217 6111.

Making a claim is not accepted as notification of a defect.


It's an offence to make a fraudulent claim for compensation or to exaggerate one. Any persons who make fraudulent claims may face criminal prosecutions and/or become liable for the costs associated with their civil claim.

We have a duty to protect public funds and will use the information provided for the detection and prevention of fraud. It may also share information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.

You can find more information on our fraudulent claims webpage.

What happens if I owe a debt to the council?

If you owe us a debt in any capacity, including, but not restricted to Council Tax and rent arrears, then we'll offset this against any settlement agreed.

Before you make a claim

You must think carefully before making a claim.

We have a high level of self-insurance and so successful claims are normally paid from public funds. This takes resources away from frontline services.

You can use our online form to report an issue with a road or pavement.

If you still wish to make a claim, you can use the form below. You must make sure that you complete it fully and upload all supporting evidence.

Make a claim