Hit a pothole? Government is liable to foot the bill for damage

Government can be held responsible for pothole damage to your car.
Government can be held responsible for pothole damage to your car.
Image: File/ LAUREN MULLIGAN

You may have missed the memo earlier but Arrive Alive has reminded motorists that they can claim from the government for pothole damage to their cars. 

In an article that has resurfaced after recent heavy rains, Arrive Alive on Monday said the maintenance of roads remained the responsibility of government and that the government therefore was liable to cough up should a motorist suffer as a result of their failure to keep up with that responsibility.

"There is a responsibility on the side of the authority to maintain roads and repair potholes. It will however also be a matter for the law of evidence as well as a matter to establish blame. The question would be whether there was negligence on the part of the roads or municipal authority in not repairing that pothole – thereby removing a clear and present danger to the road user," Arrive Alive said.

"There are reported cases in our law of significant damages awarded to people injured in accidents caused by these potholes."

There are several things that need to be verified before a claim can be processed.

One of those would be where the incident occurred – whether it is on a national road or municipal road. For example, pothole damage occurring on a national road such as the N1, N2 or N3 would need to be submitted to the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral), which is responsible for the maintenance of those roads.

"Claims for damages from potholes on national roads are therefore directed to Sanral and from there to the specific contractor on that stretch of road," Arrive Alive said. 

For pothole damage on municipal roads, the department of public works must receive any claims.

"The road users would have to approach that specific municipal authority or department of public works and enquire from them which documentation to complete, and to whom to submit such a claim. This might unfortunately take more time and is also dependent on the efficiency of that municipal office," Arrive Alive said.

The group highlighted however, that claims would be scrutinised to prevent fraud so enclosing details such as where the pothole was, when the damage occurred and the condition of the vehicle was vital.

The motorist's ID document, driver's licence, car registration details, a signed declaration and three written quotes for repair are also required in order for the claim to be considered. Arrive Alive also recommended that the driver enclose a picture of the pothole and the damage to the vehicle.

"It is also important to show that there are not two claims for the same damage – so you may not claim from both your insurer and the insurer from the road works company," Arrive Alive said.

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