Footpath trips and falls

City of Newcastle (CN) as a local Roads Authority has responsibility for the footpaths within the Newcastle Local Government Area. We conduct regular inspections of the footpath network and are continually assessing damaged areas and prioritising repair work.

Before we are obliged to pay compensation for injury or damage suffered on our footpaths, it must be established that this injury or damage was a result of our negligence.

The legislation that applies to our responsibility for injury or damage resulting from the use of local roads, including footpaths is the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) (the Act). The Act sets out a number of principles to be employed in determining whether we are liable for injury or damage. For example, section 45 of the Act provides non-feasance protection for roads authorities.

"A roads authority is not liable in proceedings for harm arising from a failure of the authority to carry out road work, or to consider carrying out road work, unless at the time of the alleged failure the authority had actual knowledge of the particular risk the materialisation of which resulted in the harm".

The principles concerning to the management of our resources in exercising its function as a Roads Authority are set out under section 42 of the Act:

(a) "The functions required to be exercised by the authority are limited by the financial and other resources that are reasonably available to the authority for the purpose of exercising those functions

(b) The general allocation of those resources by the authority is not open to challenge

(c) The function required to be exercised by the authority are to be determined by reference to the broad range of its activities (and not merely by reference to the matter to which the proceedings relate)".

Accordingly, we may not be liable for injury or damage arising from a footpath hazard unless we were aware of the hazard and had not addressed the risk within the reasonable limits of our resources.

We recommend that you seek independent professional legal advice if you are unsure about whether you are able to claim for your loss or damage.

CN is sympathetic to persons incurring an injury or sustaining a loss. However, the fact that an incident has occurred does not mean we are liable to provide compensation. Before we consider payment of compensation, proof supporting your allegation is required that the loss or damage claimed has been caused by negligence on our part and/or our employees or agents.

For a claim to be considered, evidence must be provided to us for consideration. The onus lies on the claimant to provide sufficient evidence or proof to substantiate your claim.

Should you wish to make a claim against the City of Newcastle, please complete and submit the Claim for Compensation form. Please include all relevant documentation and photos of the alleged accident/incident site to support your claim.

Completion and acceptance of your ‘Claim for Compensation’ form does not represent an admission of liability or a waiver of its rights on the part of CN. We will investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident to establish whether or not we have any legal liability. Your claim will be subject to investigation and assessed on its merits.

The process of investigation and determination can take 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes there are delays in obtaining information which is beyond our control (i.e. information required from third parties, contractors or witnesses). We endeavour to respond to claims as quickly as possible; but claims brought in negligence are often complicated and we ask for your patience and co-operation during this time.