A dead end sign has labelled as needing repair, but before it was repaired it caused £1,500 of damage to a car belonging to a struggling 76-year-old pensioner.
Alan Boor parked his car outside the entrance of his house on Woodland Avenue, Rayleigh, near a sign that was based on the nearby grass verge, but after being informed by a friend that the sign had fallen down, Alan Boor quickly realised the sign had actually fallen onto the roof rack of his vehicle, breaking his passenger window and denting the door where it was hit.
Alan Boor took his vehicle to the Nationwide Crash Repair Centre in Benfleet, Essex, where they calculated it would cost £1500 to fix the damage caused. Regrettably, Alan can’t afford to pay for the repairs to his Nissan Almera and County Hall declined to support him.
This is simply money that Mr Boor doesn’t have, and he’s enraged that they simply couldn’t care less and that the sign obviously hadn’t been maintained, and had it been maintained the whole thing wouldn’t have fallen, the signpost was rotting at the base and all rusty, and he’s now waiting for them to assume responsibility and pay up.
Following the incident, Alan got in touch with Essex County Council, claiming they should be responsible for paying the repair fee, but the council notified Alan Boor the latest routine inspection was conducted on October 24 and it had since been inspected again, while lying broken on the floor, and was still certified as safe enough.
A report from the risk and insurance team at County Hall said that a post-incident inspection was made of the incident location whereupon the Highway Inspector observed a no through road signpost had broken at the bottom and was laying on the verge with the base of the post connected to the stump in the verge.
A risk evaluation was made of the site but it wasn’t thought to be serious.
Throughout the risk assessment, the fault was given a risk factor of three. Any score below six implies that it isn’t deemed to be serious, so the inspector allocated a low priority defect ticket advising repairs should take place throughout the next schedule of works.
Section 58(1) of the Highway Act (1980) provides a defence for the Highway Authority to prove it’s taken the prudent measures to ensure it wasn’t dangerous and was maintained to a consistent standard. The letter then proceeded to say that Essex County Council was unable to grant any compensation whereby there was a legal defence against any such claims and that it was for this reason that they confirmed that liability in regard of Mr Boor’s request had been refused.
But Alan said that this antiquated bylaw was enabling the council to claim immunity from prosecution.
A spokesperson for the council stated that the claimant had communicated with them raising additional points in relation to the matter, and consequently, they’re proceeding to examine the case.
Maybe Mr Boor should have pushed the signpost down before it fell down, it was rotten so it would have avoided all that misery, but of course, then he would have been charged with criminal damage. Yet, the council cause criminal damage and they appear to be free from prosecution.
Fortunately, the signpost only fell onto a vehicle, but what if that very signpost had fallen onto a child, they could have either been pretty severely injured or killed, so who would have been responsible then? What would have the council said then, “Oh, we’re so sad to learn that your child’s death but we’re not at fault here and we’re not settling.”
It’s the same with pothole cases, the council perpetually appear to deny liability because of some reason or another, and if this was a sign owned by a private company such as a construction firm or a high street shop then they would have public liability insurance, so clearly the council must have some sort of insurance in place.
Of course, most businesses will initially deny responsibility, and for the preponderance of personal injury compensation cases, it’s normally clear enough to see who’s responsible.
In situations such as car accidents where one car smashes into the back of another stationary vehicle, it’s easy to apportion responsibility and hence work out who will be the responsible individual when it comes to making a claim for damages.
When liability is denied, in this case by the council it would seemingly be simpler to get a solicitor to dispense with it, such as a no win, no fee solicitor who would tell you as to whether or not they believe you have any realistic possibility of winning if your claim were to go all the way to court.
Mr Boor’s solicitor could then ask to see the risk assessment or any checks that had been done in the last few years before the signpost fell, if the council are found that they hadn’t checked it, or if they’d had warnings about it, but did nothing about it, then surely they must be liable?
So, let’s look at this realistically, the signpost had failed and was laying on the ground and the council said it was perfectly innocuous, well, that’s beyond surreal, in fact, it’s like a sketch out of Monty Python. So, clearly as far as the council were concerned it didn’t pose any further menace, but of course, it did, because it fell on poor Mr Boor’s car, and the evidence that it fell on the vehicle is faultless evidence that it was unsafe and that danger is what?