12 March 2020

Footpath Fail Focus on Council Liability

Mark O’Connor
Mark O'Connor Compensation Lawyer

Brisbane City Council could find itself liable for expensive injury compensation claims if it knows of defective footpaths in the city but ignores its repair work responsibility.

Prominent Brisbane injury compensation law specialist Mark O’Connor says media reports of Brisbane streets with cracked footpaths not properly repaired in over a year should trigger alarm bells within the council.

He says once the council knows that there is a defective footpath, which creates a safety hazard, it is obliged to repair the footpath in a reasonable time taking into account the seriousness of the hazard. 

Mark, an Accredited Specialist in compensation law and a Director with Bennett & Philp Lawyers, says reports of defective Brisbane footpaths poorly patched up means councils cannot hide from their responsibility. 

The Courier-Mail reported in Albion, the council admits cracked footpaths along the shopping strip near Sandgate Rd have been waiting to be repaired for over a year.

Pavement slabs have lifted so much that council workers have spray-painted cracks, despite council claiming they’re safe and disability compliant.

“I would expect that the Brisbane City Council would have formal procedures and protocols for attending to footpath repairs and as long as the Council followed those protocols, it would likely provide the Council with a defence to any legal action except if the protocols are unreasonable,” Mark says.

“Pedestrians are supposed to take reasonable care for their own safety, so to some extent, a pedestrian needs to be on the lookout for potential hazards when they are walking along footpaths.

Some of the photographs from the media reports show obvious tripping hazards. It probably becomes more problematic in the evening when those hazards are not obvious to persons who might be walking or jogging along a footpath.

“In those circumstances, if someone had a fall over a hazard of which the council is aware and which have not been fixed within a reasonable time would then the injured pedestrian would be in a position to be able to likely be able to pursue a good civil claim for damages,” Mark says.

He recommends that members of the public who see defective footpaths report them immediately to the Brisbane City Council – this will hopefully lead to a speedy repair or alternately allow fellow members of the public to seek compensation if the Council does not repair the defect in a reasonable time.

“The Brisbane City Council has found $650 million to pour into the Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade. Surely it can budget to maintain and repair suburban footpaths at the same time?” Mark says.



Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).

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