Council puts latest public liability claim settlements on display in Town Hall

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council settled 11 public liability claims made against it in the past two years.

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council settled 11 public liability claims made against it in the past two years.

Information on the settlements, mostly for personal injuries claims on footpaths, roads and other Council infrastructure, is to be put on public display in Carrick-on-Suir Town Hall next week after a report on them was presented to the Town Council's January meeting.

Town Clerk Michael O'Brien said details of the settlement were supplied by Irish Public Bodies and included figures both for the settlement and legal costs. The settlements were made in 2009 and last year.

He pointed out that some of the public liability cases went on as long as ten years between lodging the claims and reaching settlement.

Cllr Kieran Bourke asked if the Council could put on display a list of public liability cases where the Council was found not be to negligent.

Mr O'Brien responded that the Council had cases where the settlements were zero, which meant the claim was either withdrawn or the Council won. He said the insurance company vigorously fought a case where it felt that taking it to court was going to be successful. There were cases where claimants weren't successful against the Council, he said.

Executive Engineer Nicola Walsh said the list of cases the Council won would be zero as a case the Council was expected to win would be withdrawn by the claimant. It wouldn't get to court

"We never win in court and generally don't go into court. You don't get that far, it's settled before then. That is a decision taken by the Irish Public Bodies and the (Council's) solicitors," she explained.

Town Engineer Eoin Powell complained that a number of claims had been made recently in relation to Kickham Street concerning accidents that happened before the street was revamped.

However, the claims were made until after the Council finished upgrading the street. It was difficult for the Council to comment on these claims because the street has changed.

"You are literally fighting that one in the dark. Those ones are paid out." he said.

Cllr Denis Landy pointed to another flaw in the public liability claims system - the cases of people who only wanted to be reimbursed the relatively small amount of their medical expenses and loss of wages arising from the injuries they sustained but had no option but to go down the legal route.

"I think it's a gaping hole because there are very genuine people, who don't want to get into making a claim but there is no other option. You have to go down the legal route."

He proposed that the Council write to Irish Public Bodies and request it put in place a system where people can claim these expenses without having to get involved with solicitors and go to court.

The Council unanimously agreed to send the letter and also to circulate it to other local authorities for their suppor.