6 May 2019 – By Taylor Burls & Reinhardt Nel (Candidate Attorneys at Gert Nel Incorporated)
With South African roads in such a bad state, many cyclists may wonder, do I have a claim for any damages I suffer should I get injured from driving into a pothole? The short answer is yes, as many courts have held municipalities or other government bodies responsible for injuries suffered by unfortunate victims who have driven into a pothole.
Such an example happened in 2008. During a group ride, Ian Vowles hit a pothole which left him with bad brain injury, a fractured skull, a neck injury and facial damage. Vowles spent a month in hospital after first being in a coma. Six years after the accident, the Durban High Court had ordered the eThekwini Municipality to pay R 2.1 million in damages suffered by the cyclist.
Another example is the Supreme Court case of McIntosh v Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal. The appellant who was an avid cyclist suffered severe bodily injuries when he swerved into a pothole. The appellant proceeded to the High Court on the basis that he suffered damages due to the respondents being negligent in their duties of maintaining the road or even providing warning signs to make road users aware of the danger in the road. However, the court found that the appellant was solely liable for the injuries he sustained. The appellant approached the Supreme Court of Appeal stating that the pothole had been in existence for more than a year. There was no maintenance done on the public Pietermaritzburg road which caused the pothole to become large and dangerously deep. The Department in defence stated that there was no money to maintain the roads in KwaZulu-Natal.
Justice Scott in his judgment stated that the respondents could not provide sufficient evidence on the reason why their lack of funds caused them to neglect their duties on keeping the roads safe for all users.
Thus, a cyclist that suffered as a result of bad road conditions, need not be worried, they do have a claim for any injuries sustained as the government bodies responsible for road maintenance have a clear responsibility to maintain our roads.
Contact us today at: www.gertnelincattorneys.co.za should you have any queries in this regard.
McIntosh v Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and Another (632/2007)  ZASCA 62; 2008 (6) SA 1 (SCA) ;  4 All SA 72 (SCA) (29 May 2008)