Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Friday, 12 January 2007

Road damage claims top 10m mark

A pothole on a city road surface
Thousands of road users are claiming after injury or damage

Five thousand motorists and other road users are claiming £10m for injuries and damage allegedly caused by potholed roads in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Figures obtained by the BBC's Inside Out programme under the Freedom of Information Act show 20 councils have paid out £1m damages over two years.

Claims for a further £9m, including some cases involving serious injury, are pending.

One council - Leeds - says it has spent £13m improving the city's roads.

BBC Yorkshire's Inside Out investigation reveals some roads are now in such a poor state of repair that they subject motorists to vibration levels that would be illegal in the workplace.

The programme team fitted an accelerometer designed to measure vibration to the driver's seat of a Ford Focus as journalist Morland Sanders drove down the rutted surface of Clarendon Road in Leeds.

Expert Simon Bull, of the safety assessment company Castle Group said: "If you were exposed to these sort of readings for a living, your employer would have to do something about it."

Statistics released by town halls reveal that fewer than one in ten damage claims has been settled without dispute.

Cyclist Jason Bottomley who was injured after hitting a pothole
Cyclist Jason Bottomley won 6,000 after being injured

Cyclist Jason Bottomley fell off his bike after he hit a pothole on a road near Huddersfield. His right ear was almost severed and his racing cycle was badly damaged.

He claimed £250 to cover the cost of repairs, which the council refused to pay out.

When he involved a solicitor, he won £6,000 for personal injuries as well as the repair bill.

Leeds City Council issued a statement saying: "Over the last two years, we spent a total of £12.6million delivering a comprehensive programme of planned work on local unclassified roads.

"The additional investment, improved inspection and recording techniques, and a more rigorous approach to defending claims has seen a reduction in the number of claims we received relating to road condition by 30% since 2003/4."


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