MORE than 120 motorists have successfully claimed compensation from Kirklees Council in the last two years for vehicle damage caused by potholes.
Figures obtained by the Examiner show 129 people received a total of more than £18,000 between April, 2006, and April, 2008.
But another 106 people had claims rejected.
One of them was biker Allen Jenkinson, who was hit with a £950 repair bill after his motorcycle was damaged by a pothole in Lipscomb Street in Milnsbridge last October.
The statistics, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal 108 claims were lodged with the council between April 2006, and April 2007 for a total amount of more than £18,000.
The council settled 44 of them and paid out £9,924.
Between April, 2007, and April, 2008, a further 127 drivers applied for compensation for a total amount of more than £30,000.
Of those claims, 85 were successful and £8,425 was paid out.
The Examiner asked for information after running a series of articles about motorists who had tried to claim compensation for damage to their cars.
In April we reported how Vanessa Ramsden, of Springfield Terrace in Emley, had to fork out £116 after one of the wheels on her Ford Ka buckled on Northgate in Honley.
We then revealed how two cars had been damaged by the same pothole on Moor Lane, Netherthong, within two days of each other. The council refused to pay out in both cases.
Last week we told how Gary and Carol Osborne’s BMW car suffered £900 of damage in two incidents in January and April. Again the council rejected their claim.
A council spokesman said decisions on whether claims should be accepted were down to civil law.
The Highways Act obliges local authorities to maintain roads “maintainable at public expense”.
But the spokesman said: “This legal obligation does not extend to maintenance of the highway so that this remains without defects at all locations at all times.
“This would clearly be unsupportable from public funds.”
The Highways Act also allows councils to defend themselves against claims if they have taken “reasonable care” to maintain roads so they are not dangerous.
The spokesman added that the council’s inspection system complied with Government guidelines.
Officials inspect roads and footpaths with varying frequency based on what category they are.
The spokesman said: “Whether liability exists for damage to a vehicle which strikes a pothole is generally, therefore, determined by whether the defect was dangerous and requiring repair or maintenance at the time of damage and whether the council should have been aware of the defect within the context of the statutory inspection system.
“If a defect which caused damage was not present at the time of the last statutory inspection or was not sufficient to require attention at that time and there have been no reports or complaints of the defect by the public prior to the accident, the council are entitled, at law, to decline the claim.”
To claim successfully, a motorist has to prove how the damage was inflicted.
The council then looks at previous inspection reports and requests for road repairs.
In rare cases the matter may go to court.
The spokesman said: “If the council has breached its duty of reasonable care then the claim will be accepted, subject to proof of reasonable repair costs and, in the case of damage to say a vehicle tyre, an appropriate adjustment for pre-existing wear and tear.”
As revealed in the Examiner last month, the council has filled in 40,000 potholes in the last two years and spent £53m on road improvements over the last two financial years.