Potted guide to pothole problems
WITH potholes making the surfaces of many of our roads less like billiard tables and more like badly cracked washboards, hundreds of drivers are left facing repair bills because of damaged tyres, wheels, suspension and even bodywork.
There have been more than 1,500 successful claims against the Roads Service for pothole-related damage over the last three years.
"Potholes are becoming an increasing concern to motorists in Northern Ireland, with many being needlessly forced to pay out hundreds of pounds on car repairs just to get back on the road," said Una O'Neill from JMK Solicitors.
"It's a growing problem, particularly during and after the winter, and it remains a constant worry," said Ms O'Neill.
"In the past, many drivers didn't claim because they feared a long and difficult legal road ahead for little return. However, because of the frequency of incidents, motorists are quite rightly demanding their money back."
:: What to do if your vehicle is damaged by a pothole:
1. Put hazard lights on and pull over where and when it is safe to do so.
2. Check for immediate damage to wheels and tyres. If the vehicle shows signs of vibrating or pulling to the side, call a recovery provider as more damage can be caused by driving any further.
3. Record your direction of travel and exact location.
4. If safe to do so, take photographs from different distances. If you have any objects in your vehicle such as a water bottle, position these inside the pothole to show perspective of the depth and width.
5. Make a complaint quickly and report any defects immediately. Complete the form on the NI Direct website.
6. Take your vehicle to a reputable garage for repairs and wheel alignment. If applicable ask them to note the cause of damage on your invoice. Keep all documentation in relation to your vehicle repairs, including quotes, receipts, invoices etc.
7. Ask neighbours in the area if they are aware of how long the defect has been present.
8. Check Google maps online to see if the defect was there when the area was last photographed. This can be helpful if Transport NI allege that the defect was present only recently.