Claims against Council
If you have sustained an injury, loss or damage because you believe there has been negligence by Council, you can submit a request for compensation.
Before you submit a claim, it is important that you read through the information below.
Lodging a claim
Council has appointed Echelon Claims Services, to assess liability on their behalf.
Once you submitted your claim form, Echelon will be in touch with you regarding the conduct of your claim. Echelon will acknowledge receipt of your claim form via letter, which may outline relevant legislation that may have a direct impact on your claim. Echelon may also require you to provide additional information. The Claims Consultant’s details will also be made available.
Who are Echelon?
Echelon Claims Services is not an insurance company. They are an independent third party that objectively assess Council's liability when requests for compensation are made. As there is no insurance policy available that responds to you in these circumstances, your claim will be assessed based on negligence. Echelon will only recommend compensation when a clear legal liability has been established.
On what grounds would Council accept my claim for reimbursement?
Council will accept claim requests and make payment if the information you provide and the information from our investigation determines that we have a legal responsibility.
Note: Council is under no statutory obligation or common law duty to automatically pay compensation just on the grounds that an incident occurred on Council-owned or managed land, or that an asset belongs to Council.
Does accept claims for reimbursement on compassionate grounds?
We want all our residents and visitors to enjoy their experience within the shire; however, there are times when unpredictable circumstances such as extreme weather events result in some kind of loss. Where this occurs, Council can only accept claims for reimbursement where the facts from our investigation demonstrate that Council has liability.
We have an obligation to ensure ethical use of Council funds, including ratepayer contributions. As such, all claims are investigated before Council accepts any liability for payment.
What information should I include in my claim?
For your claim to be considered, you will have to be able to establish that an injury or property damage occurred due to Council’s negligence. You will also be required to provide clear evidence and supporting information to substantiate your claim. For example:
- Council Reference Numbers
- Expert reports
- Witness statements, etc.
Note: under Section 52 of the Wrongs Act 1958, the Claimant always bears the burden of proof. Therefore, neither Council, nor Council’s agents, will be able to provide any assistance in the best way to prove a claim against them.
How are claims considered?
Complaints about liability of a council for injury or damage are considered against the requirements of the Civil Liability Act 2003 and common law (law developed by judges using precedents).
For a council to be held liable for injury or property damage, it must be shown that the council owed a duty of care, that it breached that duty of care and that this resulted in damage.
The Civil Liability Act contains principles that restrict liability claims against councils, including that:
- the functions performed by councils are limited by financial and other resourcing considerations
- allocation of financial or other resources is not open to challenge
- the full range of council’s functions are to be considered
- council may rely on compliance with general procedures while carrying out its functions.
How long do investigations take?
Echelon Claims Services endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible. However, as all requests for compensation are assessed on their own merits, it may take some time to collate all the relevant information before we are in a position to make an accurate decision on liability. This process takes approximately eight weeks. However, this time frame can be longer due to delays in obtaining information and other factors beyond Echelon Claims Service’s control.
After you submit your claim
Once you have completed and submitted your claim form, Echelon Claims Service will be in touch with you regarding the conduct of your claim.
Echelon will acknowledge receipt of your claim form via letter, which may outline relevant legislation that may have a direct impact on your claim. They may also require you to provide additional information. The Claims Consultant’s details will also be made available.
Should I contact Council during the investigation process?
No, there's no need for you to contact us. Once our investigations have been completed, Echelon will contact you with a response to your claim.
If Council does not accept my claim request, what can I do?
If your claim is denied, a letter will be sent to you explaining the reasons why your claim was denied. You will also be given the option to appeal the decision via an internal review process. The details will be provided to you with our denial letter. Alternatively, you may refer your claim directly to your private insurer who may be able to assist you further.
If Council accepts my claim, what do I do?
If your claim is successful, you will be required to sign a Deed of Release and payment will be arranged for the agreed amount.
Can I engage a lawyer to represent me?
It is your right to engage a solicitor at any time during the claims process. However, the decision to do so is entirely a matter for you and Council accepts no responsibility for legal costs you incur if a claim is denied. Issues of legal costs and the risks associated with litigation is something that should be discussed with your legal advisor.
Pedestrian and personal injury claims
I’ve been injured. Will Council compensate me?
Not necessarily. The courts have stated that councils are not legally responsible for incidents caused as a result of a defect which could have been seen by an ordinary person keeping a proper lookout. If your incident involved an obvious and visible defect, it is likely that Council will have no legal liability and your claim will be unsuccessful.
Roads and footpaths
My incident occurred because of a defect in a road or footpath. Does this mean Council should reimburse my claim?
Not necessarily. It’s not possible to keep all roads and footpaths in a perfect condition all the time. Council maintains approximately 1,700 kilometres of road network within the shire and conducts regular inspections.
For more information on how Council manages its roads, view Council’s Road Management Plan.
Council may not be liable for damages arising from potholes and other hazards unless Council:
- was aware of the pothole
- has been negligent in not addressing the risk within Council’s ability in terms of resources and Road Management Plan (RMP)
To report an issue on a road, go to Road repairs and maintenance.
Trees are natural assets that can behave unpredictably in certain weather conditions. If you are making a claim for tree impact damage from a Council street tree, it needs to be established that the loss was due some form of negligence or lack of care on the part of Council.
What if the tree roots of a Council tree has caused damage?
If you believe Council’s tree has caused tree root damage, you have a duty to provide evidence of the alleged root impact to private infrastructure. Along with the request for compensation claim form, you may be required to provide further information to include the following:
- Contact details for the person reporting the damage. We may need to speak to you for further information and/or to arrange a site inspection.
- Location of the alleged damage.
- Location of the tree/s alleged to have caused the damage.
- Details of any past root management works by Council.
- Photos of the alleged damage.
Sports Injury Insurance
Council provides a limited Sports Injury Insurance coverage for players and officials engaged in sporting activities coordinated by Council. This cover is provided free of charge to assist participants with potential medical expenses and/or capital benefits for total and permanent incapacity sustained whilst engaged in these activities. Note: cover is not provided for loss of income.
Benefits provided by this cover are not fully comprehensive and it is strongly recommended that individuals consider their own personal circumstances and carefully assess their own needs in relation to Private Health Insurance and Personal Income Protection Insurance, should they suffer a serious injury.
Find out more at Sports Cover Policy
To make a sportscover injury claim, an incident report must be completed by a Council officer. Contact the relevant officer at the Council facility where the injury was sustained, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How does Council ensure that the information I provide is protected?
Council is committed to protecting your privacy.
We comply with all our obligations under the provision of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.
Submit your claim