Cyclist Appeals Pothole Accident Verdict

Cyclist Appeals Refusal Of Payout From Council After 2009 Accident

12.06.2014

A cyclist who suffered a range of medical problems after an accident involving a pothole is taking his plea against the decision not to award him any kind of payment to the Court of Appeal, in a case that may have wider legal ramifications.

Mervyn Griffiths, aged 56, suffered an accident when riding in the village of Croesor in May 2009. He hit a pothole and came off the bike, suffering two broken bones and injuries to his back, knees and hand. He also suffered damage to his teeth and head injuries, with the latter causing him to suffer tinnitus. 

A judge at a hearing in December dismissed claims by Gwynedd council that Mr Griffiths had been riding too fast down the hill when he hit the pothole.

However, he also refused to award damages to the cyclist on the grounds that the pothole was not dangerous and to make the council do so would place too great a financial burden on local authorities. 

Lord Justice Aikens, a keen cyclist himself, has now ruled that Mr Griffiths can appeal and the rider from Blaenau Ffestiniog is seeking £50,000 in damages via a panel of three judges at the Court of Appeal. He ruled that Mr Griffiths did have an arguable case that the council had failed to meet its legal obligations regarding the repair of potholes.

The case may have a wider legal impact beyond the financial outcome for Mr Griffiths or Gwynedd Council, as it could lead to greater clarity on the issue of potholes and the responsibility local authorities bear for them.

Mr Griffith's counsel Russell Moffatt argued in court that the pothole was between 80 and 100 mm deep, which meant that the council had a legal obligation to repair it within 24 hours under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980.

He said the wheel of the bike had come "thumping down" on the vertical edge of the pothole, causing his client to go over the handlebars.

Expert Opinion
Our work on behalf of victims injured and the families of those killed in road traffic accidents means we have seen numerous cases in which potholes contributed to safety problems on the road.

"This case has put an interesting spotlight on the issue, specifically on the responsibility of local authorities to monitor and maintain roads within their jurisdiction. Cycling communities and other road users will be eagerly awaiting the outcome and the implications that it will have on route management – and ultimately safety."
Colin Ettinger, Partner