Councils face lawsuits over failure to grit footpaths
LOCAL authorities could face compensation claims because of their failure to grit minor roads and footpaths, it has been claimed.
Pedestrians and motorists who suffered injuries after falling or being involved in collisions could sue city and county councils which have not ensured that walkways are ice free.
Personal injuries lawyer Liam Moloney claimed yesterday that local authorities should have ensured that "high-risk" areas were properly gritted and that councils had a legal obligation to act on foot of complaints.
"Some footpaths are not safe and this was clearly foreseeable. The law says if it was foreseeable, and the local authority was on notice, it's liable."
He also said that local authorities which treated a road one day but not the next could also leave themselves open to claims.
"Once a local authority begins to treat a road they're saying it's dangerous," he added. "If they don't come back the next day and treat it they may have significant difficulties."
The Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurances Ltd, which insures local authorities, was not available for comment. It is understood from local authority sources that any compensation claims will be contested.
The Department of Transport said that local authorities were not legally obliged to grit roads and footpaths.
The Personal Injuries Assessment Board, which must adjudicate on all injury claims before they go to the courts, said it had not experienced any rise in claims.