Council forced to pay $300k over pothole damage
FAILING to secure temporary signage that warned motorists of damage to a floodway on the Leichhardt Highway has ultimately cost Goondiwindi Regional Council hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The council has been ordered to pay $304,000 to 58-year-old motorbike rider and Goondiwindi resident Paula Tait, who suffered serious injuries after hitting a pothole on the highway in September 2016.
While riding with a group of friends on September 25, Ms Tait struck a large pothole and came off her bike, suffering several fractured vertebrae, and a number of fractures in her left foot, in addition to other injuries.
She sued Goondiwindi Regional Council for damages in the Brisbane District Court in May 2018.
The council defended the matter, and it went to trial in August.
District Court judge Nathan Jarro found that in the wake of minor flooding along the highway between September 13 and September 20, the council had assessed the Mittengang Creek floodway for damage and erected temporary signage to warn road users of changed conditions on September 22.
But Judge Jarro found that the council had failed to secure the signage and it had fallen over by the time Ms Tait and her friends approached the floodway on September 25.
Judge Jarro said that, based on evidence given at the trial, he had formed the view that had the temporary signage been secured or weighed down, the lead, experienced rider of the group would have observed the warning sign and slowed her motorcycle.
He said that would have caused the other riders in the group to slow down and "thus, the accident would have been avoided".
"That is what occurred for the riders after Ms Tait, who were all riding further back and although not warned, were aware of the danger from what they observed in front of them," he said.
"In my view, once the council erected the temporary signage, it was under an obligation to ensure the signage was properly secured. It failed to do so and thereby breached its duty to road users by failing to take measures reasonably open to it to secure the signs as a means of warning to road users."