No compensation for Branscombe pot hole break

Marie Dowell Marie Dowell

Monday, June 2, 2014
1:00 PM

A Branscombe pensioner was left housebound after breaking her foot on a pot hole – but the county council is denying liability ‘for every single imperfection’ on the road.

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Normally enjoying daily 12-mile walks, for weeks ‘stubbornly independent’ Marie Dowell had to be ferried about by her family, and the cost has added up.

Yet a letter from Devon County Council’s lawyers last Thursday revealed that her personal injury claim had been unsuccessful.

Her granddaughter Christina Squire joined the efforts looking after her, and said: “We were expecting compensation. By the time you’ve driven to hospital several times, and shopping trips, the costs add up.

“It was frustrating for her to lose her independence – she’s not that sort of person.”

She said it was ‘disgusting’ that, Marie, who frequently walks around the village and reports the road issues she sees, should get nothing back.

Christina added that her grandmother has no plans to leave the hilly village, but that could change if she becomes unable to drive and she and her husband are left stranded.

Marie, 77, was injured getting out the way of a ‘speeding’ car as she walked from her Parkfield Terrace home to visit her friend in Cotte Barton.

She had to dodge another two vehicles by Pitt Farm, and that was when she lost her footing.

It wasn’t until she went to visit her family in Seaton and taken to the doctor that an X-ray revealed she had broken her fifth metatarsal.

She was only just out of her cast last week when a letter arrived from DCC’s lawyers saying the pothole was only an ‘erosion of the top course of the highway’. It said liability would not be imposed as the council is ‘not under a duty to repair every single imperfection’.

A DCC spokesman said it does not comment on individual cases, but that by law a court would need to consider whether a person’s injury was as a direct result of DCC’s failure to maintain the highway.

He confirmed that the council has seen a rise in the number of compensation claims since government funding cuts had reduced local spending on roads, and that while there is no formal procedure for appeal against a decision, claimants can seek legal advice.

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