Claims related to Council roads including potholes
Whilst Council endeavours to ensure the roadways are serviceable, at times during adverse weather and heavy rainfall this is not always possible. The Civil Liability Act 2002 Sections 42 and 45 recognises Council is not automatically liable for damage incurred in using Council roads. Even if Council is aware of a pothole the ability to repair this as quickly as it is reported is limited by Council resources. It is extremely unlikely for Council to reimburse for vehicle damage sustained because of a pothole or other factors such as foliage encroaching the road.
The following information will assist to understand the reasons why claims are very rarely paid:
- Council has immunity under the Civil Liability Act for claims where Council had no actual knowledge of the pothole or had limited resources to repair the pothole as quickly as it is reported.
- Potholes are generally caused by a combination of wet weather and heavy traffic.
- Permanent pothole repairs require the road base to be completely dry meaning that often only temporary pothole repairs are possible.
- As a road user the main obligation is to drive to the conditions and be vigilant.
- If you are insured privately for motor vehicle insurance, you may wish to report the claim to them. If covered they will settle your loss and then pursue recovery against the Council on your behalf.
Claims related to fallen trees including branches
Trees by their very nature are known to drop and grow foliage and for limbs to grow out from time to time, this is commonly accepted. Council do not have resources to prevent incidents like this such as falling onto a vehicle or property. These types of incidents are considered to be a natural occurrence and impossible to predict and prevent. Even if a tree belongs to Council and is located on Council land, this does not create an automatic liability on Council’s part. In order that Council can be held liable, it must be proven that they acted negligently.
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