This case took over 14 days to hear. We argued on our client’s behalf that there was inadequate and misleading road signage on the Monaro Highway, near Bombala. At the time a new road was being built and our client was diverted down a dirt section of road which acted as detour.

We argued that the Council, who was responsible for the roadwork, failed to put a proper traffic control plan in place resulting in our client believing that the roadway was a one way road. As a consequence there was a head on collision and our client suffered injury and damage for which she sought compensation.

We called expert evidence on her behalf from a traffic engineer who gave evidence that the traffic control plan was faulty and that there should have been sign posting to indicate that the road was for two way traffic. Our expert also gave evidence that the barriers and signage in place was confusing and that this caused the accident.

Judge Armitage of the District Court heard all of the evidence. He came to the conclusion that whilst there may have been some confusing aspects of the roadway, it did not cause our client’s accident. After a 14 day battle, we advised our client that she should not be satisfied with that finding and that she should appeal to the New South Wales Supreme Court of Appeal. She agreed.

The appeal was heard over 2 further days. We were able to satisfy the Court of Appeal that the Judge in the District Court got it wrong. The Court of Appeal agreed with our argument that the intersection was confusing and that as a result of the confusion, our client suffered injuries for which she had an entitlement to receive compensation.

Justice Beasley of the Court of Appeal, with whom Justices Ipp and Basten agreed, said in the Judgment, “I am also of the opinion that there was negligence in the design of the general traffic control measures including chevrons being placed on both sides of the road in circumstances where there was no two way sign at the detour.”

The Court of Appeal substituted a verdict in our client’s favour and the matter has now been sent back to the District Court to decide what amount of compensation our client should get.

This roadwork negligence case is a good example of two things:

  1. The importance of having access to and understanding what expert evidence is available in negligence cases;
  2. Not giving in and being prepared to take a case all the way to the Appeal Court when you consider you are right.

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