A SINGLE MUM from Dunfermline has hit out at the "ridiculous" delays in dealing with her compensation claim after her car was damaged by a pothole.

Laura Niven, 33, has now been told the claims handlers have been unable to "identify the defect" despite Fife Council filling in the crater on Pittencrieff Street just days after the incident in March, which caused damage costing £1,100 to her Kia Ceed.

She said: "It happened on the Friday night, we phoned the council on Monday morning and by the next day it had been repaired but now the claims handlers for the council are saying they can't identify where the defect was?

"It's just ridiculous."

A consumer champion who specialises in motoring disputes, Scott Dixon, is now acting for her and told the Press: "Laura's case is a great example of how councils and claims handlers use various mitigating tactics to decline and delay legitimate claims.

"I saw her case and contacted her knowing what she is up against so I can resolve it for her and get the justice she deserves."

As the Press reported at the time, Laura, of Pentland Terrace, was driving from Crossford to Dunfermline when she heard a loud "clunk" as she turned towards Coal Road.

Soon after her car started shuddering, she managed to stop in the bus lay-by on Bothwell Street and discovered the wheel axle had snapped.

A roadside recovery mechanic said it was remarkable she hadn't lost control of the vehicle.

Laura said: "My mum gave me a lift that night to take photos of the pothole and you couldn't see how deep it was as it was filled with water; it had been raining.

"I put my foot in it and I'm a wee size five and it was very wide, it was four times as big as my foot.

"I've been up since and the pothole has opened back up again in the exact same place, so it obviously wasn't a good repair.

"A lot of people have complained about the potholes and the whole road is an absolute disaster."

She continued: "My mum and stepdad paid for the damage, I was lucky they did or I wouldn't have a car, but I'm having to pay them back and I hate the thought of having debt hanging over me.

"Scott had seen the Press article on Facebook. He's told me he's going to fight it all the way and I'm so glad I've got someone on my side who's willing to help me."

Scott said Pittencrieff Street, a main route through the town, was an A-class road that required monthly inspections so the council should be well aware of any defects.

He said: "They know where the pothole is as they went straight out to patch it.

"It's just part of the delaying tactics (councils) use and it's completely unacceptable, especially given Laura's circumstances as she had to borrow over £1,000 from her parents to get her car back on the road.

"Fife Council and the claims handlers see her as a soft touch and keep kicking the case down the road.

"Blaming COVID-19 for the delay in responding is just ridiculous too.

"Everyone has been working from home and they could easily have dealt with this.

"The virus has become a catch-all excuse for everything."

Scott, who published a guide on how to win pothole claims, told the Press in February that Fife Council's record was "woeful" with just 10 per cent of motorists winning a claim for damage caused to their vehicle by a pothole, with an average payout of £200.

The council's Martin Kingham said: "While we are unable to comment on individual cases, it’s fair to say that our internal processes have been hampered by the lockdown.

"We are doing what we can to reduce any inconvenience being caused by delays in the assessment of liability claims.”