Trilby Misso takes on government over dangerous road


Law firm launches action against Queensland Government over dangerous highway, accusing it of "allowing a dangerous situation to perpetuate"

Trilby Misso takes on government over dangerous road
Trilby Misso takes on government over dangerous road
By Brad Gardner | July 5, 2010

Law firm Trilby Misso will launch legal action against the Queensland Government, claiming it has ignored calls to upgrade a road despite knowing it is dangerous.

Lawyer Michael Andersen from Trilby Misso conducted an investigation into the New England Highway at Geham near Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, after being approached by a crash victim.

The driver hit a tree after swerving to avoid a branch on the road. The passenger suffered a shattered femur.

The firm will argue the Department of Transport and Main Roads has breached the Civil Liability Act, which puts the onus on an individual or public authority to rectify a danger once notified of it if it falls within their responsibilities.

Andersen says the department is aware the road is dangerous due to the Australian Road Assessment Program rating the stretch of highway from Geham to Cabarlah as almost three times higher than the program’s ‘high risk’ rating.

"They’ve got to be aware of those accidents," he says.

Furthermore, he says there have been more than 300 accidents on a 43km stretch of road between Toowoomba and Crows Nest in the last 10 years and the Government will only clear 486 trees along one section despite recommendations for it to remove almost 1400.

"There are parts of the highway which have become very dangerous because the necessary upgrades of narrow, tree-lined sections haven’t been undertaken."

While saying drivers can be at fault for accidents, Andersen argues the condition of the New England Highway is causing crashes.

"The history of the road itself speaks volumes," he says.

The action is a first for the law firm, with Andersen accusing Transport and Main Roads of "allowing a dangerous situation to perpetuate". He is now drafting documents to send to the government department.

The crash victim had to have a metal rod inserted in his leg. Andersen says the victim had to undergo extensive rehabilitation and his recovery is a slow and ongoing process.

While saying the firm is not proactively looking at targeting the Queensland Government for other dangerous roads, Andersen says Trilby Misso will consider it if other people come forward.

While the Act puts the onus on parties to take action, it also has a clause stating road authorities cannot be held liable if they are unaware of the danger.

The clause is meant to recognise a road department’s large maintenance obligations and that funds are not always available to finance repairs or upgrades.

ATN has contacted the Department of Transport and Main Roads for comment, which did not respond before deadline.

Mineral and Mine Movers Transport owner Peter Schuback last year sent a letter to Transport and Main Roads telling it to fix a litany of problems plaguing the road network.

He referred to the Civil Liability Act, saying the department was obligated to rectify problems or face legal action.

His letter claims Queensland highways are plagued by uneven surfaces, broken edges, potholes, "excessive drop offs" and are unfit for wet weather conditions.

"It is now your duty of care responsibility to have all roads brought up to a safe condition and to reduce the speed limits on all main roads and highways in Queensland until such work is carried out," Schuback wrote.

Schuback cites the federally-funded Warrego Highway as one of the worst stretches of road in Queensland, saying too many motorists and truck drivers were dying.


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