Pothole compensation claims dodged by SA Transport Minister

Wednesday October 20, 2021

Media Release published by The Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell

Motorists who experienced vehicle damage from potholes on major Limestone Coast roads have been advised to ‘consider their insurance options’ by the state’s Transport Minister, in response to a question asked by Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell.

At the start of September, a spate of Limestone Coast residents reported damage to wheel rims and tyres due to large potholes appearing on major highways and arterial roads after days of heavy rain.

In Question Time on September 9, the Independent MP asked Minister for Transport and Infrastructure to outline the compensation avenues available to motorists who experienced car damage due to deep potholes and poor road maintenance in the region.

Taking the question on notice, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard responded with a full statement to Mr Bell on October 9.

Stating he had been advised ‘motorists will need to consider their insurance options’, the Minister also reported the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) said no liability rests with the State Government.

“Pursuant to section 42 of the Civil Liability Act 1936, a road authority is not liable for the failure to maintain a road,” the statement read.

“However, as part of the conditions of contractual agreements with DIT maintenance contractors, the contractor is responsible for conducting scheduled fortnightly maintenance inspections of all main arterial roads that fall under the care, control and management of the Commissioner of Highways.”

DIT monitors the performance of contractors to ensure they meet their responsibilities, Mr Wingard said.

“The contractor is also contractually responsible to attend to reports of pothole or other defects on the road, within the contractual timeframes, from being made aware of the hazard, to make the site safe,” the statement read.

“The contractor is only liable if it has failed in its contractual responsibilities to DIT, and a claims process is available to an individual if it can establish that this has occurred.

“In practice, this means that a person must be able to show that the contractor has failed to act on the knowledge of a specific road hazard (within the relevant stipulated time frame) prior to the person receiving damages as a result of that road hazard.”

Mr Bell described the situation as ‘ridiculous’, saying road users deserved a consistent level of maintenance.

“How are motorists supposed to know if a pothole has been previously reported and the contractor hasn’t taken action within a specific timeframe?” he said.

Mr Bell said he would continue to advocate for Limestone Coast roads to be properly maintained.

“Billions of dollars are spent on metropolitan roads each year,” he said. “Covering vast areas of the state, regional roads deserve the same levels of investment and maintenance.”