Compensation claims as a result of highway defects
How to make a claim for compensation if you suffer a personal injury or damage to your property.
On this page
Report the defect
Information for solicitors
Please note that if you are a solicitor looking to make a claim against the council through the Claims Portal, the council's Portal number is: G00439.
- For claims with an accident date up to 29 June 2020, our policy number is QLA 18AC04 0013 92.
- For claims with an accident date of 30 June onwards, our policy number is P20 CASLFG 00163
Roads we are not responsible for
Oxfordshire County Council is not responsible for all roads within the City of Oxford.
Oxford City Council are responsible for the side and estate road network within the Oxford city boundary, therefore any claims in relation to incidents on these roads should be directed to them.
Oxfordshire County Council is also not responsible for the A34, A43 or the M40 and does not inspect or maintain them or their slip roads. If you have suffered an incident on the A34, A43 or the M40, contact Highways England.
Before you claim
Please read the guidance below before you submit a claim. You are entitled to make a claim against the council, but be aware that there is no automatic right to compensation.
The presence of a defect does not automatically make the council liable for any damages/injuries arising from it. Your claim will only be successful should there be evidence that the council has failed to meet our legal duty.
Our duty to maintain
Oxfordshire County Council is the Highway Authority for the majority of roads within the county, and we have a duty under the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the highway network we are responsible for. These duties are defined by Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 and require the council to take ‘reasonable steps’ to make the highway safe.
Please note that not all defects present on the Highway Network will be considered a real source of danger to members of the public requiring the council to take steps to make them safe.
As well as putting a duty on the council to maintain roads and footpaths, the Highways Act also gives reasons that can be used in our defence against claims. Your claim will be considered on the basis of the Act, existing legislation and case law.
Debris on the highway
Oxfordshire County Council is not responsible for street cleansing. If your claim relates to debris on the highway please contact the relevant district council to the area.
Reasons for compensation not being paid
If it can be shown that the council has acted reasonably and complied with its duty, your claim will not be successful. Where the council has acted in a reasonable manner and has fulfilled its duty to inspect and repair, we will not be legally liable to pay compensation. In this situation, your claim will be turned down and no compensation offered.
We recommend that you have repairs to your vehicle carried out straight away as there is no guarantee that your claim will be paid.
‘Reasonable action’ in relation to highway maintenance requires the council to inspect the highway regularly and repair defects over an accepted tolerance. Repairs should be undertaken within a reasonable time, once we are made aware of a defect either via inspection or when notified by members of the public, police, motoring organisations etc.
It can be necessary or the investigation and handling of your claim to share the information you provide on the claim form, together with your personal details, with contractors working on our behalf.
Also, where required so to do, we will share information with the law enforcement agencies for criminal investigations, prosecution of criminal offences, and in detection and prevention of fraud.
Read the council’s privacy notice.
Make a claim
If you feel that we have failed in our duty and you have suffered a personal injury or damage to your property as a result of this failure complete the New potential claim form.
Please ensure that you provide all the information requested on the form as your claim will be rejected and returned if any information is missing. It is a requirement in law to provide:
- a specific time
- location of the incident.
You are entitled to seek independent legal advice at any time in relation to your claim and your local Citizens Advice will be able to provide this free of charge.
What happens next
We pass some personal injury and property damage claims to our insurers, Zurich Municipal to deal with on our behalf. If this applies to your claim, we will let you know as soon as possible.
Once you send your form, we will review it, and the claim will be acknowledged (or rejected should relevant documentation be missing). A full investigation will take place into the circumstances of the incident, including the review of Highway records. We will write to you with our decision.
If we decide to settle your claim, we will make you an offer based on the level of injury or value of damaged items. You are free to take independent legal advice on this offer, but we may not be able to cover your costs for doing this. Should your claim be successful, we will not be able to provide compensation based on an estimate or pay the garage directly on your behalf.
If we turn down your claim, we will write to you with a full explanation of how we made the decision and why.
How long it will take
The council aims to acknowledge receipt of your claim, and then make a decision on it within three months. Sometimes this may not be possible is your claim is particularly complicated, or we have to pass it to someone else to consider.
Tree related incidents
Oxfordshire County Council is responsible for the maintenance of trees which stand on land which has been adopted to be maintained at the public expense. We are not responsible for trees growing on private land, or for branches growing from them that overhang the highway, with the responsibility resting with the private landowner.
Should your vehicle suffer damage as a result of a fallen or protruding branch, please submit clear photographic evidence of the location including a clear photograph of the tree involved in the incident. Please also provide a precise map of its location.
Please note that if the tree is growing on private land, we would recommend that you approached the private landowner direct to pursue your claim.
In relation to any alleged damage to private property as a result of a highway tree, we would recommend that you approached your own household insurers in the first instance. They will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on how to pursue a claim.
To enable us to fully consider any claim, we would need to see the following documentation:
- Structural report to clearly indicated the nature and area of damage
- Ground investigation survey to include foundation depth and soil type analysis
- Site plan to show the property and location of any adjacent trees
- Drainage survey
- Arboricultural report to include root analysis
- Photographs of the damage and tree(s) in question
- Land registry search to confirm ownership of the land
- Any relevant monitoring information
Please note that we would only consider the removal of a tree (on a without prejudice basis) on the presentation of clear evidence to show it is having a direct or indirect impact on the property.
Where the problem with road conditions was caused by contractors working on our behalf, or by a utility company we will refer your claim to them. We'll write to you with the organisation's details and the reason for referral.
National Fraud Initiative
This authority is under a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information you provided on this form for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes. For further information read our fraud page.
We may take legal action against those submitting fraudulent claims.