Council Must Pay Up After ‘Botched’ Repair

A judge has ordered a local authority to pay a significant legal bill as well as compensation after a Teesside man was injured when he tripped on a damaged footpath.

The shift manager fell after stepping into a hole in Hutchinson Street, Brotton, as he walked to a working men’s club with a friend on October 20 2013. The dad-of-three suffered pain in his lower back and severe bruising to his foot and big toe, although x-rays showed there were no fractures.

The hole had been left where an old lamppost had been removed before the council put a new one in a few feet away. Redcar and Cleveland Council strenuously denied liability for the accident and the case went all the way to trial.

The judge accepted the council’s submission that it carried out regular inspections of the footpath. However, former highways inspector John Cody, for Macks Solicitors, was able to point out that the hole had not been properly filled in after removing the old lamppost.

He showed that fresher, darker Tarmac around the new lamppost column that did not extend to cover the whole area from which the old lamppost was removed.

The council could not, therefore, have properly repaired the whole area by following the necessary process of filling the hole and compacting the surface before putting the final Tarmac on top.

“I explained to the judge that when a lamp column is removed there are two stages of reinstatement,” said John.

“The first is a temporary reinstatement, which makes the hole safe. Very shortly afterwards a permanent reinstatement should be carried out where a section of the footpath would be cut out and filled with sub base – stone.

“This is compacted before the base course of Tarmac is laid, followed by the wearing course or top layer of Tarmac.

“The council’s contractor failed to do the permanent reinstatement in this case, causing the eventual collapse in the footpath.”

Accident Solicitors

Paul Henderson, of Macks Solicitors, who handled the case, added: “The judge found that the council had essentially carried out a botched repair without properly filling in the hole. They must have simply covered the hole without properly excavating the whole area and filling it in properly.

“Fortunately my client’s injuries were not too severe and before the trial started his compensation was agreed at £2,500, subject to liability. From the outset we alleged that either the lamppost had been simply pulled out and a hole left or that the area had not been properly reinstated by the council.

“The council disputed liability relentlessly from start to finish but the judge found completely in favour of the claimant.

“Had the council quickly admitted liability the costs would have been significantly less under the new fixed costs scheme. However, they chose to dispute the case.

“They are now not only liable to pay damages but have also been landed with a bill for significant costs.”

The injured man, who asked not to be named, was pleased with the outcome and praised Macks for their perseverance.

“Paul was first class and always kept me in touch with developments throughout,” he said. “They were absolutely excellent.

“I think the council should have admitted liability, because anybody looking at it could see the job they’d done was inadequate. They just shoved some Tarmac into the hole instead of stripping it out and doing it properly.”

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