Concern as Cork County Council pays out over €6.2m in claims

Over €6.2m was paid out last year by Cork County Council in relation to claims for personal injuries and damages to vehicles, in particular.

It brought to almost €13m the amounts paid out for the past three years, but the figure for 2016 almost matched the combined awards for 2014 and 2015.

A total of 341 claims were settled in 2014 at a total cost of €3,406,189 and, in 2015, the payout for 318 successful claims was €3,136,175.

However, last year there was €6,269,362 given to 500 successful claimants, with the increase causing considerable concern to county councillors.

Council officials yesterday provided a breakdown under a number of headings for the nature of the claims.

Damage to vehicles caused by potholes rose to 237 in 2016, compared to 104 and 157 in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Successful claims for injuries incurred after falling on defective footpaths surged to 76 last year, up from 57 in 2015 and 39 the previous year.

In another category, which was outlined only as ‘slipping and tripping’, there were just four claims last year which was down from 39 in 2015 and 50 in 2014.

Payouts for damage to vehicle windscreens went to 22 last year, again higher than the two previous years.

Under the category ‘road issues’ — which was not elaborated on further by council officials — there were 49 successful claims in 2016, up from 34 in 2015 and 47 in 2014.

Cllr Des O’Grady, who had requested the report, said he was very concerned about the rise in last year’s claims, adding the council should do everything in its power to reverse the upward trend as damages totalling €6.26m was money which could be used for vital services like housing.

“Infrastructure deficiencies are the main problems with claims for potholes and footpaths increasing.

“The figures are very worrying, they’re reaching alarming proportions,” he said.

Cllr Melissa Mullane maintained the council was not learning from previous claims as they were continuing to rise.

Youghal-based Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley said she was not surprised by the number of pothole claims as most of the roads in east Cork were in a dreadful state.

“It’s not just potholes which need fixing as roads are collapsing,” she said.

Cllr Aidan Lombard said council engineers in Kinsale had carried out 60 very minor works on potential trip sites around the town and maintained it was money well spent.

Cllr Frank O’Flynn said he was surprised by the number of claims in relation to footpaths as the council was spending more money than ever on repair and improvements.

County Hall officials, meanwhile, said the council did not pay any private investigators to work on any of the claims over the three-year period.

They said local area engineers were asked to investigate claims and prepare a report which included weather conditions, lighting conditions, and any third- party involvement.

They said their insurer would frequently assign one of its loss adjusters to prepare a report on the incident and then deal with the claim.

It was not disclosed how many of the successful cases were settled, in or out of court.

The council, meanwhile, is acquiring more road patchers to reduce the number of pothole claims.


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