Compensation claims as a result of highway defects

Find out how to make a claim for compensation if you suffer a personal injury or damage to your property as a result of a highway defect. 

Report the defect 

If you have not already done so, report the defect subject to any claim through our online reporting tool

Roads we are responsible for 

Oxford City Council and ODS Group 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 us.

Roads we are not responsible for 

For roads outside of the City, but within Oxfordshire county, please contact Oxfordshire County Council. Oxfordshire County Council is not responsible for the A34 or the M40 and does not inspect or maintain them or their slip roads. If you have suffered an incident on the A34 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 

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. 

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. 

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 

‘Reasonable action’ in relation to highways 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 public, police, motoring organisations etc. 

Data sharing 

It can be necessary for 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 the detection and prevention of fraud. 

Read Oxford City Council’s Data Protection Policy

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 please contact our Customer Contact Centre on 01865 249811. 

Please ensure that you are ready to provide all the information requested 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 
  • location of incident. 

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. 

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 have logged your request of compensation we will review it and send the required forms and request any further information.

Once this information has been returned 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 

We aim to acknowledge receipt of your claim, and then make a decision on it within three months. Sometimes this may not be possible if your claim is particularly complicated, or we have to pass it to someone else to consider. 

Longer decision time 

We are currently receiving a significant number of claims and the timeframe mentioned above is not being achieved. We are working through claims as quickly as possible, in date order. 

Referred claims 

Where the problem with road conditions was caused by contractors working on our behalf, or by a utility company we will refer your claim on to them. We'll write to you with the organisation's details and the reason for referral.