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.

Reporting defects

Please ensure, if you have not already done so, to report the defect subject to any claim on the council’s fix my street webpage.

Important information

Please note that if you are a solicitor looking to make a claim against the council through the online Claims Portal, the council's Portal number is: G00439, and our policy number is QLA 18AC04 0013 92.

Oxford City Council are responsible for the road network within the Oxford city boundary, therefore any claims in relation to incidents on these roads should be directed to them.

Please note that Oxfordshire County Council are not responsible for the A34 or the M40 and do not inspect or maintain them or their slip roads. If you have suffered an incident on the A34 or the M40, you would need to contact Highways England.

Additionally, Oxfordshire County Council are not responsible for street cleansing. If your claim relates to debris on the highway please contact the relevant district council to the area.

Before you claim

Please read the guidance below before you submit a claim. Whilst you are entitled to make a claim against the council, please 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.  

Statutory defence

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.

Will my claim be 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 would recommend that you have repairs to your vehicle carried out straight away as, as stated above, there is no guarantee that your claim will be paid.

Reasonable action

‘Reasonable action’ in relation to highways maintenance requires the council to inspect the highway on a regular basis, and repair defects over an accepted tolerance. These repairs should be undertaken within reasonable time, once we are made aware of a defect either via inspection or when notified by members of public, Police, motoring organisations etc.

Making 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 please use the attached link to complete an online 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, date and location of incident so please ensure you enclose full details of these on your claim form.

You are entitled to seek independent legal advice at any time in relation to your claim and your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to provide this free of charge

Please note that we may share the information you provide on the claim form with other bodies.

What happens next

Please note that some personal injury and property damage claims may be passed 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

Upon submission of the electronic claim form, the information on it will be reviewed and the claim will be acknowledged (or rejected should relevant documentation be missing). A full investigation will then take place into the circumstances of the incident, including the review of Highway records. Once we have investigated your claim 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 as to how the decision has been reached and our reasons for doing so.

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.

Please note that the time periods listed above may not currently be achieved due to significant numbers of claims being received. We are working through claims as quickly as possible, based on the date they were received. Your patience is appreciated during this period.

Referred claims

Problems with road conditions may be caused by contractors working on our behalf, or by a utility company. In these cases we will refer your claim on to these organisation’s and write to inform you of their details and the reason the claim has been referred to them.

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.