Infrastructure - a Public Liability?



Infrastructure - a Public Liability?

Authors

FORMAN P, Transport Research Laboratory, UK

Description

More people are now claiming financial recompense for personal injuries they sustain. The amounts being paid out for each claim have been steadily rising in recent years. Increasingly, the targets of such claims are highway authorities and property owners

Abstract

More people are now claiming financial recompense for personal injuries they sustain. The amounts being paid out for each claim have been steadily rising in recent years. Increasingly, the targets of such claims are highway authorities and property owners. In some fields, the total cost of personal injury claims is now disproportionately high compared to the amounts spent on the maintenance and improvement of the built environment.

Inconsistencies between design standards, safety improvement policies and maintenance regimes for the more common vehicle-based infrastructure can weaken an authorityƕs position when it comes to assessing their prior knowledge of potentially hazardous environments. This has direct implications on their likely success at defending public liability claims.

As we move towards intelligent transport systems and greener modes of transport the liability situation will change yet further. Trams tracks and the associated pylon infrastructure now grace a number of cities. Cyclists require routes clear of debris, vertical depressions and upstands. Even the existence of pedestrian routes beside otherwise low priority traffic routes is testing the robustness of highway authority policies and practices.

With more authorities now being exposed to the rigours of claims handling, it is clear that there are principles that can be applied to the engineering process which can reduce the exposure of the authority whilst simultaneously improving public safety. The key is to recognise the vulnerability and apply the principles pro-actively.

Publisher

Association for European Transport