The winter weather always seems to leave the roads in an awful state at this time of year. Pot holes are a constant worry for motorists but many don’t know what to do if their car is damaged by a pot hole. You wouldn’t always be able to claim but it is worth learning that over 1,500 successful claims for damage to vehicles caused by potholes have been made in Northern Ireland over the last three years.
So JMK Solicitors have come up with a short guide on top tips to follow if your car is damaged and how to make a claim to Transport NI.
Top Tips if your Vehicle is damaged by a Pot Hole
1. Put on your hazard lights and stop your vehicle where safe to do so.
2. Check for damage to your wheels and tyres. If your vehicle shows signs of vibrations or feels like it is pulling to the side call your recovery provider as more extensive damage can be caused by continuing to drive.
3. Record your direction of travel and exact location.
4. If safe to do so take several photographs from different distances. If you have any objects in your vehicle such as a water bottle, position these inside the pothole to show perspective of the depth and width.
5. Report any defect immediately. This can be done on the nidirect website: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk
6. Take your vehicle to a reputable garage for repairs and wheel alignment. If applicable ask them to note the cause of damage on your invoice. Keep all documentation in relation to your vehicle repairs, including quotes, receipts, invoices etc.
7. Ask neighbours in the area if they are aware of how long the defect has been present.
8. Check Google maps online to see if the defect was there when the area was last photographed. This can be helpful if Transport NI allege that the defect was present only recently.
How to make a claim to Transport NI
• A claim can be made by completing a form available on the ni direct website: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/claim-for-vehicle-damage-compensation-form.pdf?rev=2
• Send along with photographs, receipts and estimates together with a sketch indicating the location to Transport NI; all contact details available on their website.
• Transport NI will investigate your claim within 6 months of receipt. They may instruct an investigator or loss adjustor.
• If your claim is successful they will offer you a sum of money. A cheque to your home address will follow.
• If you are unhappy with the offer made, or if rejected altogether you can bring your case before a court. This can be a risky, expensive and time consuming process and therefore it is important to seek legal advice to assess your prospects of success. You will be unable to present a claim in court for personal injuries after 3 years have elapsed from the date of incident, and for vehicle damage after 6 years.
Article written by Una O’Neill