The recent spell of bad weather has resulted in many people seeking medical attention in hospitals across the country for suspected fractures and broken bones. There has been much discussion recently about the legal duty owed by local authorities and occupiers of land to road users and pedestrians. Many injured people will have no option but to seek to take legal action to recover their medical expenses and loss of earnings.
Speaking today, Liam Moloney, Solicitor in Naas, said “the traditional legal position has been that public authorities are not liable for damage caused from their failure to maintain public roads and footpaths. Section 60 of the Civil Liability Act 1961 does however provide that “a road authority shall liable for damage caused as a result of their failure to maintain adequately a public road” but successive Governments have refused to sign the appropriate Ministerial Order to give this provision legal effect.
Mr. Moloney added “claimants can rely on Section 13 of the Road Act 1993 which provides that the maintenance and construction of all national and regional roads shall be a function of the Council or County Borough of that County”. There is therefore some inconsistency in the legal position. Many people have also injured themselves outside business premises such as hotels and supermarket car parks. This is the area of occupier’s liability. The Occupier’s Liability Act 1995 imposes a duty of care on occupiers to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstance to make sure that visitors to premises do not suffer injury or damage by reason of any dangers.
Mr. Moloney continued “in many cases the failure by occupiers to take steps to ensure that pathways and footpaths are treated with salt and grit and to place mats at or near the entrance to the premises could leave them open to be sued.
It is more likely that claims against occupiers will have a greater chance of success.