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his car had to be towed away after its driver hit a pothole on Neaves Rd resulting in two tyres bursting and damage to the car’s suspension.

Damaging your car on a council road

HOW many residents know what to do if they damage their car such as hitting a pothole on a council or main road?

After recent heavy rain a deep pothole developed on Neaves Rd in Bullsbrook and Echo News understands some motorists hit the pothole and damaged the tyres and suspension on their cars.

City of Swan chief executive officer Mike Foley said if a road user damaged their motor vehicle by hitting a pothole, they should contact their own insurance provider and either Main Roads WA or the city depending on which body was responsible for the road.

But an RAC Insurance spokeswoman told Echo News it would be best if motorists contacted the local council.

She said local councils may have protocols in place for what happen’s when drivers’ cars are damaged due to local council issues.

Mr Foley said if the location of the incident was under the care and control of the City of Swan the road user could contact the city by email at swan@swan.wa.gov.au

Once the city has been alerted to a pothole incident, the city raises a work request to assign a work crew to repair the pothole,’’ he said.

“The work request is given to an actioning officer with an urgent status for completion.

“The city also contacts the customer to provide them with feedback that the city is actioning the notification.

“Customers are provided with the work request number and advised that the request has been assigned to a work crew for action.

“In the event of an unfortunate incident where damage is caused to a vehicle as a result of driving through a pothole, the affected party should always contact their own insurance provider in the first instance.’’

The Main Roads WA website has information about the Civil Liability Act 2002 (WA) and states that while the authority has common law duty of care to maintain the road network under its control it does not mean keeping roads in perfect condition all the time, nor being aware of hazards the moment they arise.

“It does mean we should respond to road hazards that we have prior knowledge of, within a reasonable period of time,’’ the website said.

“As our maintenance contractors cannot be everywhere all the time, the Civil Liability Act 2002 includes a provision (section 5Z) which states that road authorities such as Main Roads are not liable for damage or loss arising from a road hazard, unless at the time of the incident the road authority had actual knowledge of the hazard.

“If you think we have failed to meet our duty of care to you as a road user, then the law provides that the burden of proof rests with you.

“In other words, you will have to prove your claim.

“You will have to show that we failed to take reasonable steps to maintain the road network to prevent foreseeable risks of harm.

“You will also have to show that our actions (or inactions) caused the incident, caused you to suffer loss and that such loss was foreseeable to us.

“You will have to substantiate the extent of your loss by providing independent evidence (like receipts, photos etc).”

The statement said if Main Roads WA could demonstrate it took all reasonable steps to maintain the road appropriately, it would not be legally liable for the motorists’ damages or loss.

It also said there was no avenue for appeal within Main Roads.

“If you feel you have a strong legal case supporting your claim, you will need to pursue this through the civil courts.

“If you feel you have been dealt with unfairly with respect to the administrative process followed by us and standards of service provided, you can contact the State Ombudsman who may investigate your complaint against us on your behalf.’’

By Anita McInnes

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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