The State could be facing a raft of compensation payouts arising out of several road traffic accidents linked to water pooling problems on one of Cork’s busiest roads.
The Irish Examiner has learned that one motorist has initiated legal proceedings through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) following an accident on a stretch of the N40 South Ring Road where concerns were consistently raised about poor surface water drainage.
And several more motorists who were involved in accidents on the same stretch in similar circumstances have consulted solicitors to explore their legal options.
Confirmation of the first legal case linked to the surface water problems on the N40 comes just weeks after urgent remedial works were undertaken on the road between the Sarsfield and Bandon Road roundabouts.
Flyovers at both roundabouts opened in November 2014. However, problems with the drainage of excess surface water from the road between them — a 100km/h zone which handles at least 30,000 vehicles a day — emerged within weeks.
The area has since been beset with water pooling and ponding after heavy downpours. Fine Gael Cllr John Buttimer warned repeatedly that there was potential for aquaplaning in this area and he called for urgent remedial works to be undertaken.
Last March, engineers accepted there was an issue and conducted a detailed inspection of the drainage system and road surface, and identified a number of required improvements.
Then, last November, engineers moved on site to realign drains between the two flyovers and to modify the camber on an estimated 70m stretch in a bid to improve the flow-off of rainwater. Cantillon Solicitors, who specialise in personal injury litigation and who are representing the motorist taking the legal action, confirmed that they conducted an independent engineering assessment of the road drainage system and road surface in this area just before the remedial works took place.
Solicitor Jody Cantillon said their investigation found that the drainage system was not adequate and that it was not being maintained adequately.
A section of precast concrete gulley had become totally silted up, leaving surface water with nowhere to go, he said.
“In one area, the drain was so clogged there was vegetation growing out of it. You can’t put in a drainage system that requires maintenance and then sit back and not maintain it.”
Mr Cantillon said their client was involved in a serious road traffic accident between the two flyovers at a time when there was surface water on the road.
He said the motorist will claim they were driving west when their car encountered surface water, lost control, spun out, and hit a crash barrier.
“It was a terrifying incident for our client who suffered injuries, and who is still symptomatic,” he said.
Legal papers have been filed with the PIAB in relation to this case and Mr Cantillon confirmed that several other motorists who were involved in similar incidents at the same location in similar weather circumstances are also exploring their legal options.
The PIAB made just under 13,000 awards in 2016 with a total value of just over €315m — its highest number and value of awards since 2010.
Almost three quarters of those claims were motor-related, with the average motor compensation award at just over €21,000.
The board usually rules on cases within an average of seven to eight months.
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