A dog walker who tried to claim council pothole injury compensation has been told that she is not eligible as the hole on which she tripped was “too small”.
Last December, Barbara Fielding (53) was walking her dog along Windermere Road in Blackpool when she tripped on a pothole in the road and fell – sustaining a significant cut to her head, a black eye, cut lip and severe bruising to her face and shoulder.
Barbara was taken by her daughter to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where she underwent a CT scan to ensure she had not suffered any serious brain injuries; and, although the scan revealed no internal injury, it took five weeks for the lump on Barbara´s head to recede.
After recovering from her accident, Barbara wrote to Blackpool Council asking for council pothole injury compensation. However, the council wrote back to her refusing her request as – the council claimed – the hole was too small for Barbara to be eligible for injury compensation.
According to Blackpool Council´s reply, the local authority will “repair any defect in the carriageway which on inspection exceeds a measurement of 40mm”. The letter stated that Windermere Road had been inspected for potholes in June 2015, but the hole was not considered dangerous at the time.
Talking with her local newspaper, Barbara expressed her disappointment at the refusal to pay council pothole injury compensation. She told the Blackpool Gazette that her experience had a long-term effect on her health and wellbeing. She said: “I still don’t go outside much now. I’ve even changed my route when I walk my dog because every time I see that hole it brings it all back.”
Barbara is now considering her next course of action and deciding whether she should seek advice about taking legal action to recover council pothole injury compensation. “They say the hole isn’t big enough to be considered a pothole – but how big does a hole have to be?” Barbara added. “They know the extent of the injuries I had because they’ve got the photographs”.
Blackpool Council continues to deny its liability for Barbara´s injuries, although the pothole on which she tripped has now been repaired.
Editor´s Note: Following Pitman v. Southern Electricity Board in 1978 – in which the claimant was awarded compensation for tripping on a metal plate with a height of just one-eighth of an inch (3mm) -claims for council pothole injury compensation should be assessed on the length of time that the pothole has presented a risk of injury in relation to the volume of foot traffic that uses the road on which it is located.