Road users and pedestrians across Shropshire are still negotiating giant potholes in the roads and pavements after the recent Big Freeze.
With potentially hazardous driving conditions on some of the county’s roads, if you are hurt or your vehicle is damaged due to the condition of the surface of the road, where do you stand?
Karen Clarke, a personal injury lawyer with Lanyon Bowdler, offers some advice:
“Local Authorities have a duty to ensure maintenance of highways and footpaths. As part of their maintenance they must ensure regular inspections are carried out. If a defect is found during the course of the inspection, it should be reported and then the necessary repairs undertaken.”
Not all of us will realise that Local Authorities classify roads and pathways into A, B and C categories. Each category has its own system of inspection, for example those classified as A will have 3 monthly inspections, those classified as B - 6 monthly inspections and those with a C rating will be inspected annually. It is essential that when classifying the roads and pathways the Local Authority considers what the road or pathway is used for, in order to determine which category it should fall under.
Of course there are other factors which affect roads and pathways which need to be considered, for example if there are road works being carried out by utility providers, such as water, gas and cable, has the Local Authority made sure that any damage done is then repaired appropriately. Knowing that the work has been undertaken, has the Local Authority inspected the area once the work is complete?
The weather takes it toll on our roads and paths and the recent sub zero temperatures will have had a massive impact on our roads and pathways, Local Authorities should be assessing the damage and carrying out repairs.
But of course it isn’t just the highways and pavements that are affected – what about retail parks, supermarkets and leisure complexes? Karen explains similar procedures for checking and maintaining the surfaces apply, but instead of the Local Authority being responsible, under the Occupiers Liability Act, it is the owner of the land who owes all lawful visitors a duty of care, and so they would be liable.