Out of pocket: Council refuses to pay up for 'wrong kind' of pothole

Kevin Walsh has been left out of pocket due to car damage caused by a pothole that is not accountable to the council.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013
10:43 AM GMT

A crater-like pothole that punctured both tyres of Kevin Walsh’s car as well as damaging the rack end tie rods and car tracking, costing him €266.13 is not the responsibility of the Cork County Council he pays road tax to every year, because, they say, it's the wrong type of pothole. 

“I was on my way to work and I was coming around a bend just before Kilcredan National School when I hit a very large pothole approximately 200mm deep by 2000mm long. There was an enormous bang and the front tyre blew out. I pulled in to a safe area outside the school and the back tyre was also gone.”

Kevin went through the expensive motions of getting his 02 Passat taken to a garage, getting a new tyre and straightening the alloy wheel which had been buckled. At the garage Kevin became aware of other damage to the car such as the car tracking and rack end tie rods.

“It took me several hours over a couple of days to get my car back on the road. I am a self-employed engineer so that is a direct loss in earning for me.”

Due to the severe financial loss from the incident Kevin, who has two children under the age of five, billed Cork County Council for €546.13, the total cost of repairing his car and lost hours at work.

“I received a letter from the council insurance department saying they would not be reimbursing me because the pothole had been caused by natural wear and tear. I was surprised to be shot down so bluntly, I thought maybe they would meet me half way and pay half or something.”

The general rule is the Cork County Council do not compensate for 'natural' potholes; only in situations where the council has repaired the pothole and it has reappeared. For example, the pothole that damaged Kevin's car has since been filled in so if it falls into disrepair again. the next person will be compensated.

“I thought the motor tax I pay every year was for the upkeep of the roads, wouldn’t that make the council accountable?” Kevin asks.

Midleton Councillor Barbara Murray shed some light on the subject.” You can’t expect the council to reimburse everyone who gets a puncture from potholes. Cork county is massive and there are high roads, by roads, regional roads, there are so many it is impossible to cover them all. I don’t think any insurance company would cover the council if they agreed to pay out over every pothole that caused damage.”

Kevin has since contacted his solicitor to find out if there is any point taking it further. “I went to my solicitor just to see what could be done and my solicitor also wanted to know what the situation was for his own interest. He said the next step is a solicitors letter and then the district court. The problem is if I take it to court it will end up costing me a lot more and I can’t afford any of it. I don’t know what to do.”

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