Liability claims hit home
PERSONAL injury and public liability claims cost Southern Downs ratepayers nearly $70,000 in 2011, council figures show.
The Southern Downs Regional Council last year settled three personal injury claims from 2008 and 2009, with a cost to council of $45,000 for legal bills after insurance paid out undisclosed figures to claimants.
Four other claims, lodged with council between 2008 and 2011, remain under investigation, while a legal action started against the council by the sister-in-law of a councillor is ongoing.
In the public liability stakes, a total of 49 claims were received by council between January and December last year, with a total of $21,987.26 paid out.
While specific details were not released by council, in the past liability claims have typically involved damage caused to non-council property by council staff, vehicles and machinery, including vehicle accidents and damage to public utilities such as Telstra pits.
A council spokesperson said 18 of the 49 claims received last year were rejected and five are "currently under investigation".
"Of the three injury claims finalised, one was for a person who tripped and fell at the Warwick Central Waste Management Facility at Morgan Park and one was for a person who claimed they injured themselves on a footpath," she said.
"The third was for a person who tripped on a road refuge island.
"Council is out of pocket $45,000 and the balance of payments made to claimants were paid by insurers."
The spokeswoman said there had been "no further developments" on a claim lodged in July 2010 by Janelle Bartley, sister-in-law of Councillor Ross Bartley.
Mrs Bartley is suing the council for nearly $400,000 after a fall near the Warwick Town Hall in early 2009.
Documents filed by Shine Lawyers in the Supreme Court on behalf of Mrs Bartley in 2010 allege the council was negligent in not repairing a "depression" in the walkway between the town hall and Suncorp.
Court records show the case remains open, with the most recent development last July, when further particulars were lodged with the court on Mrs Bartley's behalf.
Has public liability gone mad? Please vote or leave a comment below.