Whilst most members of our community are aware that the TAC is the statutory insurer responsible for paying compensation to those injured in a transport accident, fewer are aware of the responsibilities that are delegated to our road authorities. Our responsible road authorities include local councils and VicRoads.
Road authorities are responsible for construction, inspection and maintenance of our roads. In circumstances where there is a hazard, of which the road authorities are aware, they are responsible for the investigation and rectification of the hazard.
Due to limited budgets, growing populations and expanding road networks, road authorities are under pressure to adequately maintain our roads. Sadly, regional people continue to be over represented in our road toll, with road infrastructure continuing to play a part in regional accidents. Accident hot spots continue to exist on our road networks. Of recent times in Ballarat, high profile accidents on Cherry Flat Road and the intersections along Sturt Street have made the state of our regional road infrastructure front of mind. A number of accidents in the Geelong region, such as at the intersection of Orton Street and Presidents Avenue in Ocean Grove, also highlight the need for road authorities to monitor and adapt their designs of existing dangerous intersections in line with community expectations around safety. Listening to local residents should be at the heart of such reviews.
Whilst increased investment in our regional roads is a must to keep our friends and families safe, our regional communities can assist the road authorities in the exercise of their responsibilities by providing prompt notification of hazards to ensure that improvements can occur expeditiously.
For those injured where the condition of a public road or infrastructure was a contributing factor, if commencing proceedings it is important to be aware that the Road Management Act requires a claimant to provide written notice of the incident to the responsible road authority within a “prescribed period”. The prescribed period can be as short as 30 days from the date of the incident. Failure to provide written notice within the prescribed period may prejudice a claimant’s ability to successfully prosecute a claim.
Utilisation of the notification provisions may also help to avoid harm to other road users. Notification may lead the responsible authority to inspect the condition of the road or infrastructure and undertake repairs. If a report is created by the responsible authority, it is required to provide a copy of the report to the person who provided the notice.
The completion of the notice of incident requires prescribed particulars to be included. These details may be difficult to ascertain after the fact. To assist in the completion of the required notice it is advisable to take photographs that enable the person to precisely identify the nature and location of the hazard. In addition, it is important to take particulars of the date and time of the incident.
If you need assistance in providing notification of a hazard or defect, bringing or lodging a claim for compensation, contact your local Fortitude Legal expert.