'High footfall' due to towns
Louth Local authorities are one of the most frequently sued councils in the country, per capita, according to an RTE Investigates report released this week.
Councils are responsible for an array of public facilities, and are in charge of many everyday amenities including roads, footpaths, playgrounds and other facilities.
When an accident happens in any one of these places, a council can end up receiving a claim for compensation.
The number for claims relating to Louth and other councils for 2012 to the first half of 2017 were obtained from reports known as Claims Quarterly Reports by IPB Insurance, the insurer for nearly all of the local authorities, which were obtained through freedom of information.
The costs were described as 'proportionally highest' at Louth County Council, at €16.2m (per 100,000 people) over the period in question, followed by Longford County Council, on €15.8m, with Cork City Council in third place, on €14.2m. But these figure was said to have been 'very conservative', given that it does not factor in the cost of the time local authority staff spend responding to claims.
According to the local authority insurer, IPB Insurance, there were a wide variety of reasons for claims being made. In addition to claims for trips-and-falls on footpaths and damage caused by potholes, there were also claims for 'spatial awareness,' 'reversing' and 'theft.
Local authorities can also be hit with claims for incidents/accidents at housing which is under their control.
A spokesman for Louth Coutny Council told the RTE Investigates programme: 'Outside of the main cities, Louth is one of the most urbanised counties in the country. As such, our population is concentrated in two main areas, Dundalk and Drogheda. Where we get very high footfall, there tends to be a higher frequency of claims per capita, compared to where there is a wider spread of footfall.'