Skip to main contentAccessibility Statement

Damage and personal injury claims

We are responsible for the highways within our area. National Highways is responsible for the maintenance of trunk roads and motorways.

Please review the information below before making a claim. It explains highway maintenance and related laws.  


Section 41 of the Highways Act requires the Highway Authority, which is the Council, to maintain all highways for which it has a responsibility. In order to fulfil this responsibility, a programme of inspection is in place.

Each road and footway is the subject of inspection, the frequency of which depends upon the classification, or status, of the road or footway. When a defect or fault is found on an inspection, any repairs which are needed are done within set times. Defects reported by members of the public are treated in the same way.

Section 41 of the Highways Act imposes upon the Council the duty to maintain highways to a standard appropriate to their status and use.

To ensure that our obligations are met, we have in place a system of inspection for roads and footways.

Claims and the law

In order to be successful, a claimant will need to show that the section of highway in question has not been maintained properly according to its status and was therefore unsafe. A claimant must also show that this was the cause of the incident and that a loss or injury has been sustained.

It should be noted that Section 58 of the Highways Act provides the Council with a "special defence" to claims for damage or injury arising from the condition of the highway, if it can show it has taken reasonable steps to maintain the highway.

The Council will not have to pay compensation if it can show that it has carried out inspections and repairs as planned and reported.

Please be aware that defects can develop very quickly, particularly in the carriageway. The presence of a defect does not necessarily mean the Council is liable. If a claim arises from a defect that is subsequently repaired, this does not imply an acceptance of liability on the part of the Council.

Although unfortunately incidents do occur, very few are actually attributable to the negligence of the Council. The majority of the claims brought against the Council are successfully defended.

Making a claim

If, after consideration of the legal principles, a claim is to be submitted, there is a set process that applies.

A claimant must supply full details of the incident by completing a Liability Claim Form which will include:

  • the date and time
  • a description of exactly where the incident occurred
  • photographs of the incident site if available
  • details of damage or injury sustained

The claimant may be asked to attend a site meeting in order to identify correctly the accident location or its circumstances.

You can request a copy of a Public Liability Claim Form by sending an email to [email protected].

Processing a claim

Claims will be dealt with in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules, which is the legal framework that governs claims of this kind.

A letter acknowledging receipt will be sent to the claimant within 21 days. The claim will be thoroughly investigated and within 90 days of the date of the acknowledgement letter a decision on liability will be given. We will either accept the claim or produce sufficient evidence to refute it.

If the incident has occurred as a result of works carried out on the highway by others, e.g. a utility company or contractor, then your claim may be against them and not the highway authority.

This procedure will be followed whether the claim is handled by the Council, its insurers or their representatives

Fraud statement

Please think carefully before making a claim.

It is an offence to make a fraudulent claim for compensation or to exaggerate one. We have a duty to protect public funds and may use the information provided for the detection and prevention of fraud. It may also share information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for this purpose.

Returning your completed form

Please return your completed Liability Claim Form together with additional documents (receipts, photographs etc.) via email to [email protected].

Alternatively, you can post your form and supporting documents using the address below:

Insurance Services
West Northamptonshire Council
Angel Street

Last updated 04 April 2024