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Highway damage claims

If you have suffered damage to your property, vehicle or sustained a personal injury because of a defect on one of Dorset Council's highways, footways or rights of way, you may want to make a claim against Dorset Council.

You should report the defect to the council first, to be provided with an enquiry number which you will need when completing an insurance claim.

Claims we can help with

Dorset Council is responsible for most roads and pavements in Dorset, excluding those located in the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council area, and sections of the A31/35 trunk road network maintained by Highways England.

We can't deal with claims relating to or caused by other organisations or individuals such as:

  • contractors working for the council
  • statutory utility companies i.e. gas, electricity, water and telephony, etc.
  • private individuals such as farmers

We may be able to provide you with contact details for the relevant party.

Before you start

To make a successful claim you will need to prove that we have been negligent and failed in our duty to maintain public roads and pavements to an appropriate standard.

You will need to show that, at the time of the incident:

  • a defect existed on a road or pavement maintained by us
  • the defect is one that would be considered dangerous
  • the defect was the direct cause of any damage or injury, and that you have suffered a loss as a result

If this can be proven, we will then need to consider if the existence of the defect was because of our failure to adhere to our statutory duties. A consideration does not mean that a claim will be successful, or a payment made.

Make a claim

You must report the road or pavement defect to us before you submit a claim.

If you are unable to complete the online form, you can write to us.

How claims are dealt with

All claims are decided on an individual basis. We may contact you to arrange a visit to your home to discuss the accident and any injuries you have suffered. We will explain the claims process and answer any questions you may have.

As part of your claim against Dorset Council we will consider:

  • the information that you've provided along with any other notifications that have received regarding the defect
  • our inspection and maintenance records of the area

This will determine whether the defect or incident can be attributed to a breach of duty or negligence by, or on behalf of Dorset Council. If we believe that your claim would not be successful in court, then your claim will be rejected and you will be informed of our reasons in writing.

Only a court can decide whether the defect is dangerous and whether Dorset Council has been negligent.

How long will it take?

The time it takes to complete a case depends on the type and complexity of the claim.

Once your claim has been allocated to a file handler, we will write to you and confirm the maximum time in which you can expect to receive your decision.

Why your claim might be rejected

We have a statutory duty imposed by the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the Highway. To do this, we conduct scheduled safety inspections, based on the road classification, to identify any road or pavement in need of repair.

Over 90% of highway related claims against the council are rejected because:

  • an accident which results in injury or damage to property does not automatically bestow the right to compensation
  • Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 provides a statutory defence against claims arising from highway defects, if it can be proven that that the council took all reasonable steps to avoid the accident
  • claims are not met where there is no evidence of negligence or a breach of statutory duty
  • not all Highways are the responsibility of Dorset Council

Appealing a decision

We do not operate a formal appeal process; our decisions are based on our highway inspection data which is secure and timestamped to prevent manipulation. Any queries or challenges to the liability decision must be made in writing to the Insurance Team.

Upon receipt of your appeal, your claim will be reviewed by the Insurance Manager or senior member of the team and we will confirm the outcome of your review in writing.

Repairing damaged property

If you've made a claim for property damage you must:

  • keep your losses to a minimum
  • arrange for any repairs to be completed as soon as possible
  • keep copies of all estimates and invoices for repair work as these will be needed if your claim is successful

Motor insurance claims

If you have been involved in an incident with a Dorset Council vehicle, please provide the following information to our Insurance Team:

  • your full name and address
  • vehicle registration number / make / model
  • date and time of incident
  • accident location
  • circumstances of the incident
  • damage sustained
  • your own insurers details to include address and policy number

Appointing a representative

You have the right to seek independent professional or legal advice at any stage of your claim. However, we deal with all compensation claims in the same way and instructing a solicitor or legal representative will not progress your claim any quicker.

If you choose to appoint a third party to act on your behalf, we will correspond with them directly.

If you are acting on behalf of another adult, we will require a signed written statement from the claimant, confirming they are happy for you to do so.

Claims by third party solicitors and other legal professionals

Personal injury claims for accidents occurring from 31 July 2013 must be submitted using the Ministry of Justice Claims Portal in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers' Liability and Public Liability) Claims.

Please ensure that all claims against Dorset Council are submitted to us directly. We are a registered compensator on the Portal and can be found by searching 'Dorset Council' within the compensator details, or by entering our Portal ID: G00033.

The defendant details must be entered as follows:

Dorset Council, Insurance Section, County Hall, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1XJ.

Fraud prevention

We have a duty to protect the public funds we administer, and we may use the information you have provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. We may share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds and compensatory bodies for these purposes. We may also pass information about your claim to the Motor Insurance Anti-fraud and Theft Register and Claims Underwriting Exchange run by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

In accordance with the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997, we are legally required to report all claims for personal injury to the Department for Work & Pensions.

For further information see GOV.UK:

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