If you are involved in an accident that you consider to have been caused by a highway defect then you may be able to claim compensation. Please note though, com­pen­sa­tion is not an auto­matic right - we are pub­li­cally  funded, so have a duty to only set­tle claims where there is a clear legal liability.

It is important to understand the circumstances in which the Council can be held responsible and a little of how the civil claims process operates.

Bolton Council, as a Highway Authority, has a duty to 'maintain' the highway. (set out in Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980). The law sets out what is meant by maintenance and some things are excluded - for example, it does not include keeping a road free of mud.

Whilst a Highway Authority has a responsibility for its roads, cycleways and footways, it is not automatically liable for every incident which occurs on them. The Courts have long held that it is not reasonable to expect the Council to repair each pothole as soon as it develops, or remove every piece of debris from the road the instant it has been deposited. As long as the Council can show that they have a system of inspection in place that is reasonable, no liability would attach.

If you think that the Council has in some way failed to maintain the highway to reasonable expectations, then you will have to prove this. You will have to show that the highway in question has not been maintained appropriately with regard to its importance and use and was therefore dangerous. If this can be proved, you will then have to show that this was the cause of the accident, and that you have suffered a loss as a result.

Even if you prove these things, the law gives a defence to the Highway Authority, and it will not have to compensate you if it can demonstrate that it took all reasonable steps in all the circumstances to ensure the highway was safe.

You may wish to refer to section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 for further details of this.

Note: If your claim involves a defect on the highway that results in subsequent repair, this does not imply any acceptance of liability by Bolton Council for the claim.

Fraudulent claims 

We have a duty to fully investigate each and every claim in order to protect public funds. The Council may use the information you provide to prevent and detect fraud and will record claim data on a database for claims analysis which will be shared with our insurers.
When appropriate we will liaise with the police - which could lead to a prosecution.

Making a claim

To submit a claim for consideration, you must complete a Bolton Council Third Party Liability claim form. 

Download a claim form

NOTE: WE CANNOT ACCEPT CLAIMS BY EMAIL. The form must be printed, completed and posted back to us or handed in to our offices.

If you are unable to print a form, contact us for a copy.

Please complete all information carefully as requested. You will need to provide full details of your claim together with either a sketch or photographs indicating the precise accident location.

For personal injury claims, the Council will seek permission from you to access your medical records.

For vehicle damage claims, you will need to provide two independent estimates for the repair, unless repairs were required to be completed immediately (example - a broken windscreen)

Solicitors making a claim on someone's behalf need to submit a claim through www.claimsportal.org.uk. Bolton Council is set up as a compensator in the portal.

When we receive your completed claim form:

  • We shall acknowledge receipt of your claim within 21 days
  • We will thoroughly investigate the particulars of the claim
  • With regards to a personal injury or property damage claim, we will either produce sufficient evidence to refute your claim - or - accept your claim within 90 days of our acknowledgement via the Council's external claim handler.
  • Vehicle damage claims are usually dealt with internally and we do aim to provide you with a decision within 14 days whenever possible.

There may be cases when Bolton Council are not responsible for the location or types of work being undertaken - for example utility operations ie: gas, electric, water and private roads etc. In these circumstances we will try to advise you of this as soon as is reasonably possible.

If you require any further information regarding the claims process or wish to request a claims form please contact us.

Highways & Engineering Division

Highway Claims Team

Town Hall

Victoria Square



Telephone 01204 336661
Telephone 01204 336488
Telephone 01024 336677
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