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Work with OUTCO to prevent expensive pothole claims against your facility

Know The Law, how to Prevent Expensive Pothole Claims

As a Property Manager, you may come across pothole claims, so understanding the legal liabilities around your commercial premises is paramount.

Potholes pose not only a nuisance but also significant legal liabilities. In this article, we examine the legal landscape surrounding pothole maintenance, liabilities, relevant legislation, and give you some OUTCO tips for mitigating those legal risks and of course fast effective pothole repairs.

Pothole Claims – Your Duty of Care

Property owners and managers have a duty of care towards visitors and employees visiting their premises. This duty is rooted in common law principles, and further codified in statutes such as the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and 1984. These laws mandate that reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of anyone entering their premises. Failing to address potholes adequately could result in legal repercussions. The Occupiers’ Liability Act (1957 and 1984) forms the cornerstone of your legal responsibility. Simply put, these acts state that you owe a ‘duty of care’ to anyone lawfully visiting your premises, including employees, customers, and deliveries.

This duty translates to ensuring a reasonably safe environment, and potholes can certainly compromise that safety. For example, a supplier swerving to avoid a pothole, causing an accident. Or an employee tripping and injuring themselves due to an uneven surface. In such scenarios, the injured party could potentially sue you for negligence, claiming you failed to uphold your duty of care.

Pothole accidents on commercial premises can result in severe injuries, car damage, and subsequent legal claims. Property managers may be held liable for negligence if they fail to identify, repair, or adequately warn about potholes. Such negligence can lead to costly compensation claims, legal fees, and damage to the reputation of the business. Moreover, non-compliance with health and safety regulations further compounds the legal risks.

Health and Safety and Pothole Claims

Health and safety legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, imposes obligations on property managers to maintain a safe environment for employees and visitors. Potholes pose a foreseeable risk to health and safety, necessitating proactive measures for identification, assessment, and timely repair. Failure to adhere to these regulations can result in litigation, fines, and even criminal liability.

In addition to common law principles and health and safety legislation, managers must also adhere to the UK laws and regulations governing premises liability. These include the Highways Act 1980, which outlines responsibilities concerning public roads adjacent to commercial properties. Understanding these legal frameworks is essential for effective pothole management and liability mitigation.

OUTCO Tips for Mitigating Legal Pothole Risks

To mitigate legal risks associated with potholes, property managers should adopt a proactive approach to maintenance. Here are some practical tips from OUTCO:

Regular Pothole Inspections

Conduct frequent inspections of your premises to identify and address potholes promptly. Don’t limit inspections to just the high-traffic areas. Expand your scope to include car parks, pedestrian walkways, loading bays, and any other asphalt surfaces on your facility.

By following a regular inspection plan, you can proactively address potential issues before they escalate into major problems requiring pothole services and potentially leading to legal ramifications.

Timely Pothole Repairs

Never allow a discovered pothole to go unattended! Prompt pothole repairs are crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, a seemingly minor pothole can quickly evolve into a safety hazard, increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, and potential pothole claims.

By addressing the issue swiftly, you demonstrate a proactive approach to maintaining a safe environment, strengthening your legal defence should any pothole claim occur.

Secondly, prompt repairs are cost-effective. Fixing a small pothole with a fast fix environmental mastic repair is significantly cheaper than dealing with extensive repairs later when the damage worsens.

Additionally, addressing potholes early minimises disruption to your operations. Extensive repairs on neglected potholes can necessitate closures or workarounds, hindering your business flow. Prioritisation is key, especially for the logistics sector where even an hour of closure can have a severe impact.

Potholes should be prioritised according to their depth. Small, shallow ones (one inch or less) can be flagged for repair within a designated timeframe, say one month. However, larger, deeper potholes, or those located in high-traffic areas, pedestrian walkways, or near loading bays, should be prioritised for an immediate fix the same week to prevent potential accidents and subsequent pothole claims.

For situations demanding a rapid response, consider establishing a relationship with a reliable emergency pothole service provider such as OUTCO. Our 24/7 rapid pothole repairs minimise downtime and ensures the safety of everyone on your premises. Remember, prioritising prompt pothole repairs safeguards your facility, reputation, and legal standing, while ensuring a smooth-running operation. A pothole addressed today translates to a potential lawsuit avoided tomorrow.

Put Out Pothole Warning Signs

While immediate repairs are ideal, unforeseen circumstances can sometimes delay them. In such situations, prioritising safety becomes paramount. Installing clear and visible warning signs can significantly reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and subsequent pothole claims from visitors and employees.

Don’t just settle for flimsy signage – purchase a few high-quality, durable signs with the international hazard symbol. Ensure that they are reflective for night-time visibility and make sure that they are strategically placed around the pothole, maximising visibility from a safe distance for approaching traffic and pedestrians.

The Importance of Keeping Documentation

In professional property management, meticulous documentation is key, especially keeping records of you meeting your duty of care. It demonstrates due diligence by evidencing your efforts to identify, address, and warn about these hazards, acting as a legal defence in case of pothole-related accidents. Detailed records such as inspection reports and communication with your pothole contractor proves you took action, while pothole repair logs with size, location, and repair details streamline future maintenance by allowing you to track past repairs and target prone areas for proactive strategies.

To ensure a comprehensive paper trail for pothole management, create separate logs for inspections, repairs, and communication. Inspection logs should detail the date, inspector, areas checked, and any identified potholes with dimensions and location. Repair records should include the date, pothole location, repair method (e.g., patching, resurfacing), and the contractor responsible.

Finally, keep copies of emails or invoices with contractors regarding repairs to demonstrate prompt action. Consider digital tools like mobile inspection apps and cloud storage for efficient data collection, secure access, and easy retrieval. OUTCO pothole repair services include a complete digital documentation service as standard.

Prevent Pothole Claims

Even the best pothole plans can’t predict emergencies. Sudden downpours or heavy traffic can worsen existing potholes into safety hazards. That’s why having a reliable emergency pothole repair service such as OUTCO on speed dial is essential.

We offer 24/7 response to minimise risk, with skilled operatives using high-quality materials for long-lasting, efficient repairs. This reduces downtime for your business and grants peace of mind, knowing we’ll address any situation promptly and professionally, minimising legal issues and ensuring your health and safety compliance.

Pothole legal liability is a critical concern for UK property managers, requiring proactive measures to mitigate risks and ensure compliance with legal obligations. By understanding their responsibilities, adhering to relevant legislation, and implementing practical maintenance strategies, facility managers can safeguard their premises, protect against legal claims, and prioritise the safety of all stakeholders. Remember, proactive pothole management is not just a legal requirement but also a moral obligation to create a safe environment for everyone.

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