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Whilst Council is sympathetic to a person who has been injured or sustained loss, the fact that an incident has occurred does not automatically mean 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 the negligence on the part of 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 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 i.e. 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 Council's control (i.e. information required from third parties, contractors or witnesses). Council endeavours to respond to claims as quickly as possible, but claims brought in negligence are often quite complicated and Council asks for your patience and co-operation during this time.

Whilst Council regrets any incident, we are unable to use rate payers' 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 Council accepts 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, three essential elements:

  1. A duty of care was owed by Council to the claimant;
  2. Council breached the duty of care owed to the claimant; and
  3. The loss or damage suffered was caused by Council’s breach of duty of care - put 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, Council is unable to be sure it is investigating the correct issues.

No. Council will contact you regarding the on-going 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/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 i.e. a letter from your employer on a company letterhead, receipts, copies of paid accounts etc.

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 two independent quotes for repair/replacement of the alleged damage;
  • If it relates to vehicle damage, please provide the relevant vehicle details i.e. registration number, driver details etc;
  • 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 e.g. roadworks, parks maintenance etc. Such 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


Completed forms and all correspondence should be completed and forwarded to: Port Stephens Council, Corporate Risk Management, 116 Adelaide Street, Raymond Terrace, NSW, 2324 or via email to: riskmanagement@portstephens.nsw.gov.au.