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Maintaining roads


You can make a claim to Devon County Council if you believe that our actions when maintaining the roads have been negligent and have resulted in:

  • vehicle damage
  • personal injury
  • property damage

For a claim against DCC to be successful it would have to be shown that any loss or damage was caused as a result of our negligence. As the Highways Authority for Devon (excluding Plymouth, Torbay, and the motorway and trunk roads maintained by Highways England) we have responsibility for roads, cycleways and footways, but we are not automatically liable for every incident which occurs on them.

The courts have long held that it isn’t reasonable to expect councils to repair each pothole or highway defect as soon as it develops or occurs, or remove every piece of debris from the road the instant it has been deposited. As long as we can show that we have a system of inspection in place that is reasonable, no liability would attach.

We cannot make payments in respect of compensation as a result of its highway works. When Parliament passed the relevant legislation that requires the maintenance of public highways (Highways Act 1980) there was no requirement on highway authorities to pay compensation to residents or businesses that might be affected by such works, or for the extra fuel costs. We always try to ensure that we schedule and carry out such works in a way that minimises disruption and inconvenience, but even if that occurs, there is no legal basis on which we can make compensation payments.

If loss or damage occurs due to situations beyond our control, such as severe weather conditions, this is not normally something we can be held responsible for.

If you proceed with your claim we will undertake a full and thorough investigation for a decision to be made in respect of legal liability in accordance with the relevant highways law. This will happen regardless of the value of your claim. These investigations take a substantial amount of staff resources away from delivering highway services, and although we have a Public Liability Insurance Policy, any successful claims under £250,000 have to be paid from our own funds which would otherwise go towards providing services.

Please consider carefully whether to proceed with a claim. It may be more appropriate to approach your insurance company if you have suffered a financial loss. Your insurance company may take the matter up with the local authority if they believe there is a case to answer. If you still wish to submit a claim, please see How do I make a vehicle damage claim? or How do I make a personal injury or property damage claim?

Please note that we do not tolerate fraudulent claims. All of our claims handlers are trained in fraud awareness and any suspected fraudulent claims will be vigorously investigated. Where fraud is proven we will seek to recover costs and pursue either through the criminal or civil courts. Where claimants have been found to have made false or exaggerated claims, the Courts take a firm approach and will impose fines or in severe cases, imprisonment.