West Berkshire Council

About Reporting a Personal Injury or Damage to Your Property

Advice on making a claim for an incident you think is our fault

If you've suffered an injury or damage to your property that you feel is our fault, it's important to recognise that there's no automatic right to compensation.  Because compensation comes from public funds, we have a duty to all residents to investigate claims thoroughly. 

Compensation is only paid where there's proof that it was our fault, and it can be proven that:

  • the area where the incident happened was not properly maintained and was dangerous as a result
  • the defect was the direct cause of the damage or injury that you suffered

If you think that we've failed in our duty and you want to make a claim, complete an Incident Report Form online.

Compensation is only paid if we've been proven to have been in breach of the Highways Act 1980.

Completing an Incident Report Form

Before you start, read our leaflet pdf icon Should I Claim? A Guide to Making a Highways Claim [200kb].

So that we can investigate all claims fully, the online Incident Report Form prompts for the following information (you might like to make sure you have this handy before you start):

  • exactly where the incident took place - please be as specific as possible so we can identify the road or exact location
  • the specific defect that you believe was responsible for the incident - again, we need as much specific information as possible (telling us that a road is in "bad condition" won't help us to assess the claim)
  • the date and time when the incident happened
  • what the weather conditions were like at the time
  • your direction of travel
  • where possible, the dimensions of the defect that you feel caused the incident (for instance, in the case of a pothole, the length, breadth, depth)
  • photographs of the area and defect - please include context of both the defect and the wider area for the pictures (take a picture that takes the area into account, and provide a sense of scale if possible)
  • full details of the damage or injury you (or your property) suffered
  • details of why you think the incident is our fault
  • if your claim is for property damage, please include original repair invoices and receipts to support your claim; you are required to keep your losses to a minimum, which means that any repairs should be arranged as soon as possible (rather than waiting until the damage gets worse)

What happens next?

When you complete and send us an Incident Report Form, we'll acknowledge it within five working days. If we also send the form to our insurer, they'll acknowledge it within five working days too.

Our insurer will investigate your claim and will give you a decision within 90 calendar days from the date they received your form. 

If there's any information missing from your Incident Report Form, we'll get in touch to ask for it.  The 90 calendar day period for a decision will start from when we're satisfied we have all the information we need to investigate.

We won't pay compensation if we can prove that we have made all reasonable steps to complete maintenance (for instance of roads and or pavement).  Our safety inspection regime is used as evidence when we defend claims.

All claims are decided on an individual basis. Ultimately, only a court can decide whether we are liable to pay compensation. If our insurer considers that a court would not award compensation, then your claim will be denied.
Our insurer will give you an explanation of the decision.

Challenging a decision

If you disagree with the decision made by our insurer, then you should direct all correspondence to them.
You also have the right to seek independent legal advice at any time in the claims process.

Our responsibilities

We're responsible for maintaining over 1,250 kms of public highway within the West Berkshire's boundary. This includes roads and pavements.

To meet our duty, we have a safety inspection regime in place, where each road and pavement receives regular, routine inspections by qualified highway inspectors. The frequency of inspection is determined by the classification and use of a road.

As a result of this robust system of inspection, over 95% of claims made are successfully defended and compensation is not paid.

Successful compensation claims are paid for with money from public funds. It's our duty to taxpayers to make sure that we defend claims where we feel it's appropriate to do so. 

Who To Contact

Assistance with a range of issues related to council services

01635 551111