Drivers are being urged to claim for damage and report potholes.
Drivers are being urged to claim for damage and report potholes.

Motorists foot damages bill

THE Department of Main Roads has paid out less than $300 in compensation for vehicle damage caused by the region’s highways in the last year, and then only after a story in the Daily News.

Goomburra resident John Cairns – who along with wife Margaret runs the Goomburra Forest Retreat – contacted us in mid-March after Main Roads rejected his claim for windscreen damage to two of his vehicles.

Mr Cairns was adamant the damage was caused by trucks passing through unfinished roadworks and flicking up loose gravel and his persistence, along with our story, finally resulted in a cheque for $298 which turned up last week.

Figures obtained by the Daily News show Main Roads received more than 40 individual damage claims in the 12 months to the end of April, with most rejected and some still being assessed.

The department has laid blame for the claims – mainly from potholes and loose gravel and bitumen – on the summer flooding which caused extensive damage to its major road network, with a spokeswoman saying “most” claims had been received “late last year or early this year”.

A Main Roads spokeswoman yesterday confirmed they had paid one claim to the value of $298, with 17 rejected and another 18 not proceeding “after the initial contact”.

She said about half of the non-paid claims were for windscreen chips or cracks and the remainder were for tyre and wheel damage.

Margaret Cairns yesterday urged aggrieved motorists to make sure they kept on at the department to pay up on damage bills.

“What they are trying to do is to simply fob people off,” Mrs Cairns said yesterday.

“They tried to argue in our case that the damage could not have occurred at the locations we listed, even though there was no-one working on site at the time.

“How could they possibly know what was going on if they weren’t there?”

The Main Roads spokeswoman said four claims from other motorists have been referred to contractors who were overseeing works in the region and two more were waiting on valuations.

“Each claim is investigated and considered on a case-by-case basis and we follow a rigorous process to ensure all claims are assessed equally on merit,” she said.

“The safety of road users continues to be one of our top priorities.”

The spokeswoman said maintenance crews across the state “continually monitor our roads to make sure they are safe”, especially after the extensive damage sustained by the road network following flooding and cyclones.

The solitary payout by Main Roads is in contrast to the Southern Downs Regional Council, which has shelled out more than $20,000 in the 12 months from April to April.

A council spokeswoman said they had received a total of 34 vehicle damage claims, resulting in payouts to the tune of $21,619.53.

A council spokeswoman said 19 of the claims were successful, 12 were knocked back and three were still under investigation.

She said those three claims were for a total of $2947 worth of damage.

Have you had a vehicle damage claim rejected, or know of a pothole that needs filling? Email or call us on 4660 1310.

Vehicle damage claims

Main Roads: 42 claims, 17 rejected, 18 not proceeded, four sent to contractors, two still being valued by the department – one paid out ($298), 12 months from April 2010 to April 2011

Southern Downs Regional Council: 34 claims for same period, 12 rejected, three still under investigation, 19 paid out ($21,619.53)

Most claims for tyre and wheel damage caused by potholes, along with chipped and broken windscreens from gravel and stones and damage to vehicle paintwork

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