Councils are responsible for the upkeep of certain assets including, but not limited to, roads, water supply, stormwater and sewerage drains and parks. Generally speaking, if it is a place that would be considered to ‘belong’ to the public it is probably the council’s responsibility to upkeep the area. Fixtures including park benches, garden beds, bins, play equipment and street signs are also the council’s responsibility.
Often, when these areas or objects are damaged or not regularly maintained, injuries caused by fallen trees or branches, potholes, flooding, loose fittings or erosion can occur.
How to ascertain if making a public liability claim is the right option
If you were injured due to an accident that happened in an area the council was responsible for maintaining and it has caused pain and suffering that resulted in loss of income or quality of life, you may be entitled to compensation.
If you were:
- injured in Queensland; and
- injured in a public place (for example, you tripped on a damaged section of the footpath); and
- you are able to identify that the council is the responsible organisation for the upkeep of the public place; and
- you were injured as a direct result of the negligence of the council in upkeeping that public place; and
- you are submitting a claim / able to submit a claim within the legal time frame for which you are allowed to submit such a claim
then seeking to sue the council for negligence could be an appropriate action.
Be sure to find out the correct council that is responsible for the public place. An area that may seem local to you could actually fall within the area relevant to another council and therefore, be under their responsibility.
It is also worth noting that although the council themselves may be at fault, because of their public liability insurance, in this instance you will technically be suing the council’s insurer, not the council or any of its employees.
To help you determine whether your claim has merits and to assist you in the legal proceedings surrounding making a claim of negligence against a council, you should seek the advice of a compensation lawyer. A compensation lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and strive to ensure if you are entitled to a financial settlement, that you reach the best outcome with the council’s insurance company.
If you would like to seek legal advice because of an injury you believe the council was at fault for, you should act quickly as strict time limits apply to certain claims.
Please note, if you are the employee of a council who has been injured while at work, your claim may differ, and you may be eligible for Workcover. In this instance, you should still seek assistance from a compensation lawyer who will be able to help you in navigating a workers compensation claim.