Large potholes cause crash on bend

On 15 August 2016, Alastair, 22 years old, went for a leisure ride on his Suzuki Bandit 650cc. He’d only had his licence for one month prior but had been around motorbikes all his life. It was forecast to be a nice day and he had the day off work as a labourer, so had planned a ride-out.

He was heading West on A887 past Dundreggan Reservoir, when he encountered a series of potholes on a left hand bend which caused him to lose control of his motorcycle.

Potholes in carriagewayHe crossed onto the opposite carriageway and crashed into the rocky verge.

Damaged motorcycle on road

Alastair suffered fractures to his left heel, kneecap, elbow and wrist and was taken by ambulance to Raigmore Hospital where he stayed for 8 nights.

The night of his accident, Alastair’s Dad went to see the location of his accident and found the potholes that had caused Alastair to lose control. He took photographs and measurements and immediately reported them to the Roads Authority who subsequently repaired the potholes within two weeks. Being a Trunk Road, the A887 is operated by Bear Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Ministers.

Measuring the depth of the pothole
Not knowing what to do next, Alastair contacted Motorcycle Law Scotland. We were able to immediately intimate a claim to Bear Scotland and start investigating the road maintenance and inspection regime. We submitted Freedom of Information requests for the maintenance and inspection records and poured over hundreds of pages of documentation. We contacted witnesses to the incident and also all the surrounding property holders to take statements about the road condition.

Bear Scotland denied responsibility for the accident and refused to pay compensation to Alastair for his injuries and losses. They said that whilst they were aware of the defect, it had been classified as a Category 2 defect at the last inspection prior to the accident on 10 August 2016 – meaning that it did not need to be immediately repaired. It was clear from the measurements taken by Alastair’s father that these potholes were over 40mm in depth, ought to have been classified as Category 1 defects and therefore repaired within 24 hours.

In order to pursue the case further, we required to raise court proceedings at the All Scotland Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh, but Bear Scotland and the Scottish Ministers continued to deny responsibility on the basis they had carried out all reasonable inspections. A Court date was fixed for April 2019.

Only at a Pre-Trial Meeting in March 2019 with the solicitors was it agreed that the potholes had indeed been previously marked for general repair in April 2016 – four months before Alastair’s incident. It was clear that there had been no record of the defect being monitored after that.

An offer of £37,500 was made and by negotiation this was increased to £50,000 which was accepted by Alastair in full and final settlement of his case.


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