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Accidents on roads and footpaths

The Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA) states that a 'road authority' cannot be held negligent for a failure to maintain, repair or renew a road; or to take other action to avoid or reduce the risk of harm that results from a failure to maintain, repair or renew a road [s 42].

Road authority means

  • a body or person in which the ownership of a road is vested by statute, or to which the care, control and management of a road is assigned by statute; or
  • if the road is on land of the Crown—the Crown or the Minister responsible for the care, control and management of the land; or
  • any other public authority or public body that is in fact responsible for the care, control and management of a road.

Road means a street, road or thoroughfare to which public access is available to vehicles or pedestrians (or both), and includes

  • a bridge, viaduct, busway (including the O-Bahn) or subway
  • an alley, laneway or walkway
  • a carpark
  • a footpath
  • a structure associated with a road.

Vehicle includes

  • a motor vehicle
  • a bicycle
  • an animal that is being ridden
  • an animal that is being used to draw a vehicle
  • but does not include a tram or other vehicle (except an O-Bahn bus) that is driven on a fixed track.

A council may still be liable if road signs are misleading and lead to an accident.

Where an accident occurs due to an animal on a road, it is up to the person who is injured to prove that the farmer or animal owner was negligent. The courts will look at the manner of driving and the nature and locality of the road, for example, if the vehicle was being driven recklessly in the circumstances. The courts will also consider the measures taken to confine or control the animal/s and will place a greater liability on the animal owner if the fences are in a bad state of repair or gates are left open, allowing the animal to escape onto the road [see Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA) s 18(4); Le Poidevan Industries Pty Ltd v Roberts[1991] SASC 2708; (1990) 11 MVR 570 and Clyne v Gulbin (1995) 65 SASR 397.] See also Injuries caused by other animals.

Accidents on roads and footpaths  :  Last Revised: Thu Nov 23rd 2017
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.