Fix my footpath! Why it’s important to report defects

06 Jul 2017


  • Compensation
  • Personal Injury

Have you ever seen a damaged footpath in Canberra streets and not given it much thought? Perhaps you have tripped over an uneven surface but thought not more of it – thankful that you did not fall! Suzanne Sharwood, Senior Associate with Snedden Hall & Gallop explains why it is so important for us all to report defects.

You may have been fortunate and not ever had an injury as a result of falling on a footpath. However if you have an injury, you will be grateful to those who have previously informed the ACT government that the site of your injury is a hazard or accident zone. In ‘slip and fall’ type cases, previous complaints about the state of accident locations are important. When it comes to footpaths, the ACT Government relies heavily on the public to report defects. You can report a defect and specify a location via the ‘Fix My Street‘ page of the Access Canberra website. The public is urged to telephone Access Canberra on 13 22 81 for urgent safety issues.

What is the ACT Government doing to fix known sites?

In a recent report, Auditor-General Dr Maxine Cooper recommended the government implement a program to systematically inspect and repair Canberra’s footpaths. At present, only high priority areas are inspected. Footpaths in Civic are inspected yearly. Other high priority areas such as Belconnen, Gungahlin, Woden and Tuggeranong are inspected every two years. Group and local centres are such as Erindale, Phillip and Dickson are inspected every three years. In high priority residential areas, footpaths are inspected every four years. However, 77% of Canberra’s footpaths are classified as low priority areas and are not inspected for damage, with the burden falling to the public to raise government awareness of any defects.

Dr Cooper expects that a systematic approach of all footpaths “would assist in avoiding higher costs resulting from a failure to identify and rectify small defects before they become large.” It is hopeful that a systematic approach would also improve public safety and reduce the risk of injury.

What you can do to help

In a personal injury claim, the inspection history of an accident location is an important factor. Snedden Hall & Gallop look forward to seeing how the implementation of a systematic scheme will unfold. However, raising awareness of defects currently falls heavily on all of us.

Have you been injured in a ‘slip and fall’ accident?

If you have been injured on a public footpath, contact the personal injury team at Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers. There are time limits in public liability claims and certain procedures to be followed , so it is essential that you seek advice as soon as possible. . Please contact us for any personal injury matter by phone on (02) 6285 8000 or by email. You can see details of our compensation representation here.