Claims against National Highways (Red Claims)

If you’re seeking to claim financial compensation from us for alleged damage or injury incurred while on the strategic road network (SRN), this is known as a 'Red Claim'.

This kind of claim would be made where you allege that the injury or damage resulted from our failure to maintain the SRN properly. To defend such a claim, we’d need to prove that all reasonable measures were taken to ensure the highway was not dangerous to traffic or pedestrians. 

We aim to protect the public purse by only settling claims against the company where there is a clear liability. We handle a variety of claims and more difficult and complex types under different areas of the law.

Smaller claims are often settled easily whereas for larger more complex claims we engage with the Government Legal Department to assist us with any legal proceedings.

The rules regarding the defence of Red Claims are set out in Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980.

View our Red Claims policy

Making a claim against National Highways

Incident causing damage or injury

If you have been injured or your property has been damaged when you were using our roads, you may be able to claim reimbursement for your losses. However, there is no automatic right to compensation or damages. The law makes it clear that highway authorities cannot be blamed for everything that happens on their roads. Although National Highways maintains the SRN, it cannot be held responsible for every problem which arises: e.g. from the actions of independent contractors and statutory undertakers working on the road, or for the actions of another third party.

If you think that National Highways is in some way responsible for the incident causing damage or injury, you will need to provide us with evidence of this. You will have to show that the highway in question has not been maintained appropriately with regards to its importance and use, and/or National Highways has in some way been negligent causing the highways to be dangerous. If this can be proved you then have to show that this was the cause of the incident, and that you have suffered a loss as a result.

Even if you can 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 reasonable steps to ensure the highway was safe. This means that all inspections and repairs had been carried out as planned or reported. Unfortunately, incidents do occur; however, very few are actually attributable to negligence on the part of the Highway Authority.

What happens when I make a claim?

Important - Please read the following notes before completing the form.

If you still feel it's appropriate to report a claim, a fully completed form will help process your case as quickly as possible. Please be aware that all cases for which we have a correctly and fully completed report form are thoroughly investigated and this can be a lengthy process. We aim to acknowledge receipt within 21 days of receiving a claim and reach a decision on liability 90 days thereafter.

Once you have submitted your completed form we will investigate the circumstances in the light of the information you have provided. You may be asked to come to a site meeting with either a member of National Highways or our managing agents. You might also need to provide extra evidence to support your claim. When we have finished our investigations, which we would hope to conclude within 90 days of acknowledging receipt of your fully completed form, we will tell you whether we reject or accept your claim. It may be that someone else is responsible for causing the incident or that the place where it happened is the responsibility of others. If this is the case we will let you know and your claim should be against them, not National Highways.

How is a claim decided?

Our decision will be based on the facts and the law, and will always reflect what we believe to be the attitude of the courts. For example, if we believe the courts would reject a claim, we will do the same. If, on the other hand, we believe that the courts would award compensation, we will offer to settle.

Evidence of financial loss or injury

You must provide details of your losses and expenditure to support your claim for damage to property. Please send copies of documents and receipted invoices in the first instance but make sure that you keep the originals as we may ask for these at a later stage. For cases involving damage to property, it is advisable to repair the damaged property as quickly as possible as any party paying compensation will only settle the original loss and not any subsequent losses. It is not our normal practice, for example, to pay for a hire car. If you have been injured, we might pass the papers to the Government Legal Department who may ask for medical evidence from your doctor or other supporting evidence if, for example, you have an additional claim for loss of earnings. By law you must keep your losses to a minimum.

Professional fees

We have well-established procedures for dealing with third party claims. We cannot advise you whether or not you should get legal help. If you do ask a solicitor or other professional adviser to act, you might not recover all or any of their fees, even if we accept liability for the incident.

Should I claim?

Please think carefully before making a claim.

The road network must be managed and maintained as cost effectively as possible. National Highways is self-insured; therefore, any successful claims are paid from public funds.

Privacy notice

National Highways is fully committed to compliance with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK-GDPR) and we have a legal duty to protect any information we collect from you.

It is necessary for us to collect and store your personal data in order to process your claim. We will collect that data from the information you provide on this form and any other communication we have with you. Unless you consent, we will not use your personal data for any purpose other than to process your claim. We will not keep it for longer than necessary.

In order to process your claim, it may be necessary for us to share your personal data with insurance companies. This is for the purpose of preventing fraudulent claims.

Where we hold information about you, from which you can be identified you have the right to ask to:

  • view this by making a subject access request
  • request information is corrected
  • have the information updated where it is no longer accurate
  • ask us to stop processing information about you, although this may prevent us from completing the processing of your claim

Please note:

  • Persons who make fraudulent claims may be prosecuted
  • If you are under 18 years old, please have your parent/guardian complete and sign this form
  • The provision of this form does not constitute an admission of liability by National Highways or imply that you will receive compensation
  • Use capital letters and tick boxes where appropriate
  • Complete all relevant sections of this form. It may be rejected if incomplete
  • We will acknowledge your claim within 21 days from the submission date. Please contact us if you do not receive an acknowledgement within this time

if you have any queries in respect of your case, please contact the Claims Branch of National Highways on 0300 123 5000 or by email

Make a Red Claim

Process flow for Red Claims

  1. Claim is identified
  2. We determine liability
  3. If we are to settle the claim, go to step 8. If we are not going to settle, go to step 4
  4. Send denial letter to the claimant
  5. If additional evidence is received, review the documents. If claim is to be settled, go to step 8. If no additional evidence is provided, go to step 7
  6. Decision is upheld. Close claim on all systems
  7. If no additional evidence is provided, close claim on all systems
  8. Is litigation now required? If yes, go to step 9. If no, go to step 11
  9. Instruct solicitors to act on our behalf
  10. Complete litigation activity with our litigation partner
  11. Issue payment to the claimant
  12. Close claim on all systems

Red Claim flowchart