Requests for compensation
While we are sympathetic to a person who has been injured or sustained loss, the fact that an incident has occurred does not automatically mean Port Stephens Council will be liable to provide compensation.
You will be required to provide proof that supports your allegation that the loss or damage claimed has been caused by negligence on the part of our Council and/or its employees or agents.
For example, loss or damage can result from an act of nature such as wind or storm, which is beyond the control of our Council. Likewise, there are times when injuries can be sustained due to a failure by an individual to take reasonable care to ensure their own wellbeing.
As establishing negligence can be time consuming and often difficult, you may wish to consider whether or not you hold a policy of insurance which provides cover for this type of loss such as motor vehicle or domestic insurance. You may find it quicker and easier to take advantage of that service and lodge a claim with your own insurer as, in most cases, the onerous test of proving negligence is not required.
The process of investigation and determination can take 4 to 6 weeks. Sometimes there are delays in obtaining information which is beyond our control (such as information required from third parties, contractors or witnesses). We endeavour to respond to claims as quickly as possible but claims brought in negligence are often quite complicated and we ask for your patience and co-operation during this time.
While we regret any incident, we are unable to use ratepayers' money to pay compensation unless a clear legal liability has been established.
Yes. It is your right to engage a lawyer at any time. However, the decision to do so is entirely a matter for you and we accept no liability for legal costs you incur. The issue of legal costs and the risks associated with litigation is something you should discuss with your legal advisor.
For a claimant to succeed against Council, they have to establish, on the balance of probabilities, 3 essential elements:
- a duty of care was owed by Council to the claimant
- Council breached the duty of care owed to the claimant and
- the loss or damage suffered was caused by Council’s breach of duty of care — simply, the claimant must establish that their loss has been directly caused by Council rather than by other factors.
In any public liability claim, the burden of providing proof of negligence rests with the person seeking compensation. Accordingly, you are required to provide evidence to support your allegation and one of the most effective ways to avoid confusion about the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident is through photographs. Without this information, we are unable to be sure we are investigating the correct issues.
No. We will contact you regarding the ongoing conduct of your request and a determination will be provided within 4 to 6 weeks.
If you have suffered a personal injury:
- photographs of the exact location where the injury took place
- photographs of the injury if relevant
- receipts or invoices for any medical expenses related to the incident
- details of any claimed loss of earnings together with wage records showing details of your earnings and any sick leave pay which you have received and
- if you wish to make a claim for out of pocket expenses such as medical costs, medication or lost wages, you will be required to provide documentation supporting your claim such as a letter from your employer on a company letterhead, receipts, copies of paid accounts and so on.
If you are claiming property damage:
- original receipts and invoices relating to the repair or replacement of the damaged property and/or provide a minimum of 2 independent quotes for repair/replacement of the alleged damage
- if it relates to vehicle damage, please provide the relevant vehicle details such as registration number, driver details and so on
- photographs of the damaged property
- copies of any expert opinions and/or any report on which you wish to rely to support your allegation that the damage is due to negligence by Council and
- details of all expenses incurred and state the specific compensation you are seeking — you will be required to provide documentation to substantiate all amounts claimed.
It is very unlikely Council will be liable to pay compensation in the following circumstances:
- you are not able to establish the cause of the damage
- the damage was caused by or resulting from a weather event
- when Council is complying with its statutory duties under relevant legislation
- damage caused by tree roots when Council was not previously aware of the problem
- damage caused by a contractor acting on behalf of Council, for example, roadworks, parks maintenance and so on — claims will be referred to the relevant contractor to respond directly
- incidents relating to the condition of pit lids or other infrastructure belonging to utility companies.