Sussex woman's 'nightmare' compensation claim after pothole damage to car

A woman whose car was damaged when she hit a pothole in a West Sussex road now says she’s facing a ‘nightmare’ process to obtain compensation.
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Linda Wickenden says she had to have a £150 new tyre fitted to her Mini after hitting the pothole outside the White Horse pub in Mare Hill Road, Pulborough, in March.

"It was a clear dry evening,” said Linda. “I had brand new tyres on my car but when I hit the pothole it damaged one so much that it had a humungous bulge in it. I had to have a new one.”

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She put in a claim for the damage to West Sussex County Council and now – after a three-month wait – has been told by the council that she will have to wait another six months for the council’s legal department to decide responsibility.

The pothole in Mare Hill Road, Pulborough. Photo contributedThe pothole in Mare Hill Road, Pulborough. Photo contributed
The pothole in Mare Hill Road, Pulborough. Photo contributed

"It’s just delaying tactics before they turn me down,” she said. "I just think it is wrong.”

She said that the whole claims process itself “is a nightmare. You have to submit photos that have to be reduced using a special app.”

Linda, who lives in Petworth, regularly travels around West Sussex for her job as a cleaner. “I have now consolidated my jobs in Thakeham, West Chiltington and Nutbourne so I only have to drive in the Pulborough area twice a month – the roads are awful. I don’t wish to incur any more damage.”

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Meanwhile, she said, she is determined to fight for her claim. “I had to pay £150 for a new tyre but I’m lucky that was not too bad for me, but someone else could have damage costing hundreds.

Linda Wickenden's damaged car tyre after she hit a pothole in Pulborough. Photo contributedLinda Wickenden's damaged car tyre after she hit a pothole in Pulborough. Photo contributed
Linda Wickenden's damaged car tyre after she hit a pothole in Pulborough. Photo contributed

"I just think the council should take responsibility for it.”

She said repairs to Mare Hill Road had only recently been carried out, three months after the damage to her car, “but all they’ve done is throw a little bit of tarmac down.”

Linda Wickenden is seeking compensation after she had to pay out £150 for a new tyre after her car hit a pothole in Pulborough. Photo contributed.Linda Wickenden is seeking compensation after she had to pay out £150 for a new tyre after her car hit a pothole in Pulborough. Photo contributed.
Linda Wickenden is seeking compensation after she had to pay out £150 for a new tyre after her car hit a pothole in Pulborough. Photo contributed.

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: “Claims for damage are processed in the order they’re received, with each being considered on its own merit.

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"Where public funds are being used to settle claims, we must ensure that those claims being approved meet the criteria and clearly evidence that the council had been negligent or breached its statutory duty to maintain the highway.

“As I’m sure you can appreciate this process takes a certain amount of time in itself and this has been exacerbated by the high number of claims we are receiving at the moment.”