Q: Some mates and I set up a cycling club last year. On a group ride a few weeks ago one of two chaps riding downhill side by side hit a pothole. He came off his bike and crashed into the other chap who also came off. Oncoming traffic meant the two riders behind were unable to avoid the chaos and they also came off. Bikes were damaged, one guy had a dislocated shoulder and another chap suffered concussion. So I have two questions. Firstly, can the council be sued for the pothole? Secondly, should we, as riders, have insurance in case someone sued us for causing an accident?
A: When riding in a group it is particularly important to have third party liability insurance as, in the event that there is a pile up and you are identified as the culprit, someone could sue you for damage to themselves, another bike or a vehicle. It is probably also worth your club becoming affiliated to an umbrella group such as Cycling UK, which would give you the benefit of indemnity insurance if you should find yourself an innocent injured party.
In answer to your question about the council, yes you can sue. If you have a pothole related accident you should photograph the pothole before leaving the scene and report it to the relevant roads authority. Get your bike checked out and a written report of any damage. Visit your GP and get written evidence of any injuries and other costs incurred. Claiming for personal injury due to a pothole is not easy, however, and will require the assistance of a solicitor. The key to a successful claim is firstly having photographic evidence of the defect, and proving it was there prior to the council’s last inspection, or that it was reported to the roads authority in the meantime.