Whilst we are all coming to terms with impact that COVID-19 has had on our daily lives, Victorians are subject to the Stay at Home Directive until at least 11 May 2020. One of the exceptions to this directive permits leaving your home for the purposes of exercise, however with gyms and other recreational venues temporarily closed, walking has become the go-to activity to stay active. For our family, this means spending more time walking the dogs around our local streets.
With an increased number of people walking it is more likely that we may encounter defects along the footpath, nature strip, or our favourite walking track. These defects could range from a raised or cracked section of concrete to an unmarked drain in the walkway. While tripping on a footpath may not seem very traumatic, in some cases pedestrians sustain significant injuries as a result of these slips and falls. However, pedestrians are not alone; cyclists and others can also fall victim to these hazards.
Your Council’s Responsibilities
What you may not be aware of is that your local council or park authority owes you a duty to make sure that the walkways in your area are safe for you to use. These duties are normally found in the council’s Road Management Plan. According to the Road Management Plan each council needs to inspect the footpaths which they are responsible for, this generally occurs once every 12-24 months.
If any defects or hazards are identified, then the council is responsible for fixing these and ensuring that the walkway is safe again. In circumstances where the council fails to properly inspect or repair the footpath, they have breached the duty which they owe you.
What Can You Do?
The best way to ensure that we all stay safe is to report any potential hazards to your local council and if possible, take photographs of the area. This does not only ensure that there is a record of the complaint, but if the area is repaired, the photograph will show what it looked like prior to the restorations.
If you have sustained any injuries it is important that you visit your GP as soon as possible after an incident occurs. You should report to your GP what happened along with any symptoms you may have, even if they seem relatively minor. This ensures that your GP has a clear record of when symptoms first started, should your injuries not resolve.
What We Can Do
If you or someone you know has sustained injuries due to an unsafe footpath, you may be entitled to make a public liability claim.
If eligible, you could recover your:
• medical expenses;
• lost income; and
• compensation for your injuries which is also known as pain and suffering.
At Zaparas Lawyers we have a dedicated team that specialises in Public Liability claims such as these. We are here to guide you through the process as well as using our expertise to thoroughly investigate your claim. This often includes undertaking an extensive search to find out whether anyone else may have also sustained injuries in the same area or engaging an engineer to test whether the area meets the required standards.
For your no obligation consultation contact the team at Zaparas Lawyers on (03) 8527 0200 and trust our family to care for you.