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Wollongong City Council

Injury or Damage Claims

If you’ve been injured or your property has been damaged, and you believe it was caused by Council, read the information below about what you can do.

Please make sure you’ve reported the problem that caused the injury or damage to us before you make a claim. This may prevent someone else suffering harm or loss.

Generally, we will only accept liability in cases where it can be proved that Council knew there was a problem and was negligent in dealing with it.

If you’re not sure whether you can make a claim, you should consider obtaining professional legal advice.

Common types of claims

Information about some common types of claims is shown below. If your claim doesn't fit one of these areas and you're not sure what to do, call us for advice on (02) 4227 7111.

If you’ve been injured, our priority is to fix any issues so nobody else gets hurt. Please report the issue that caused your injury to us as soon as you can.

When making a claim for personal injury, you should include copies of medical reports, details of the treatment you received, and evidence that demonstrates how Council was at fault.

If your claim is about damage caused by the condition of a road – like a pothole (see next section) – you'll need to show that Council knew about the problem and had neglected to fix it. Factors including how long we could reasonably take to fix a problem are also taken into account.

If your vehicle has been damaged as a direct result of hitting a pothole, please note that Council will generally not be liable for the cost of repairing that damage.

Potholes can form on roads for many different reasons. For example, significant rainfall, and patterns of intense and prolonged wet weather, can often lead to road damage.

Although we know rain can increase the number of potholes across roads, we don’t know where potholes are, or how many there might be, until they are reported to us.

After a pothole is reported, we add it to a list of prioritised works so repairs can be done. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to repair potholes as soon as they are reported to Council.

The existence of a pothole does not automatically make Council liable. For us to pay compensation, you would need to prove that we were negligent; for example, that we knew about the specific pothole, and failed to take action to repair it in a reasonable amount of time before your incident.

If you think Council has been negligent about repairing a pothole and want to make a claim, you can apply using the form on this page. You will need to attach proof to support your claim. Please note that filling out this form does not mean Council accepts liability for your claim.

If you don’t have evidence to show that Council was negligent, you may wish to speak to your insurer.

Help avoid pothole damage

You can help avoid pothole damage for yourself and others by reporting road damage to Council as soon as you notice a problem.

We also ask people to slow down and drive to conditions, particularly during and after heavy rain.

You are responsible for maintaining the drainage system and pipes, including stormwater and sewerage, between your property and the Sydney Water Mains (which will usually be under the middle of the road). This even applies to parts of your system that run under public land.

If pipes become blocked due to tree roots or other objects, it will usually be up to the property owner to deal with this.

However you may still be able to make a claim in some cases such as:

  • Your drains have been damaged by an action of Council – like road or footpath works breaking pipes; or
  • If damage has been caused by a problem with Council-managed drains.

For further information on maintenance of drains and pipes please refer to Sydney Water Home Maintenance web page.

Tree roots in pipes

Tree roots entering pipes is a common problem. This will usually only happen if the pipe is already damaged or breaking down and reaching the end of their useful life. As it is up to property owners to maintain their drainage systems, in many cases Council won’t accept liability when the roots of Council-owned trees enter private drains.

Information to include with a drain-related claim

If you're claiming for damage related to a drain, try to include one or more of the following:

  • A copy of the sewer services plan. You can find this on Sydney Water's Tap In website or Dial Before You Dig.
  • Recent aerial images from Google Maps (or similar) clearly showing your property, structures and vegetation, as well as surrounding neighbours.
  • A report from a licensed plumber or other suitably qualified service providers. This should include:
    • Their business name and details.
    • The address of the property they inspected, and a description of the inspection methods they used.
    • Details about the type and age of pipes, their condition, factors that contributed to any damage, and options to repair it.
    • A clear plan of the property's sewer, showing the location of all pipes, flow directions, the location of the damage, and entry points used for inspection.
    • Camera footage of the sewer system that shows the damage or blockage.

When trees or branches fall unexpectedly or because of weather, Council is not legally responsible to pay compensation.

We look after many thousands of trees on public land across Wollongong. We regularly maintain trees to keep them in a safe condition. We also respond to all reports of trees that are unsafe, or might become unsafe.

However, we can’t inspect every tree on public land, and trees or branches can fall at any time – even from healthy trees. Weather events like storms or high winds can also cause trees and branches to fall suddenly.

To make a claim about damage caused by a tree, you will need to prove that Council knew there was a problem with the tree and was negligent in dealing with it.

See the ‘Drains and Pipes’ section above for information about tree roots entering drains.

If any property that is covered by your insurance is damaged, we recommend that you report it to your insurer.

If they believe Council is at fault, they will take care of seeking compensation from us.

Be aware that you may have to pay an excess, or meet other rules set by your insurer. Talk to them if you’re unsure.

If you don't have insurance, you can still lodge a claim with us.

The claim process

Insurance claims

If your claim is about damage to property or a vehicle that’s covered by an insurance policy, you might be able to claim through your insurer. If they believe Council is at fault, they will take care of seeking compensation from us.

Be aware that you may have to pay an excess, or meet other rules set by your insurer. Talk to them if you’re unsure.

Council claims

For personal injury, or if you don’t have insurance, you will need to follow the steps below to make a claim with Council.

The more evidence you can provide to support your claim, the better.

What you need to include will depend on your individual case. Things that can be helpful include:

  • Details of when, where and how the problem happened
  • Photographs or video
  • Reports from relevant experts, such as doctors, arborists or building professionals
  • Witness reports or contact details
  • Evidence that the cause of the problem had been reported to Council. Include the case or reference number from your report.

If we don’t have enough information, this can slow down the processing of your claim.

Use the button below to lodge a claim with Council.

When we receive your claim, you may get a reference or case number. Please note this is not a claim number.

It is also important to note that accepting your claim form does not mean Council accepts liability for your harm or loss.

We look into each claim and investigate what happened to cause the problem.

We will look at the information you provide, as well as our records, and any other relevant details available. We may also get Council or independent experts to help with our investigations.

We try to investigate as quickly as possible, but the time this will take is different for each case. It will depend on the circumstances of your claim as to how long the investigation into your claim may take.

Once we’ve investigated your claim we will write to tell you the outcome.

Council reserves the right to recover all or any costs that have been unnecessarily or unreasonably incurred while defending claims.