Car damaged by Council - they refuse to pay for repairs!

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Insurance & Life Assurance
22 replies 1.4K views
jandanjanjandanjan Forumite
67 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Insurance & Life Assurance
I walk my dog at a local Park that you need to drive to. One Mon morning I drove into the car park at 8.30am in the morning and the large metal gate had not been secured back properly into place. I was not the first car in the car park as 2 other people were there before me. The gate swung back as I drove past and bashed into the side of the car causing £902.28 worth of damage.

I immediately went up to the Rangers office and reported it. One of the workers came with me and after seeing there was no padlock went back up to the rangers office while I held the gate in the open position and replaced the padlock to lock the gate back in place. The ranger told me that all the staff had recently had training on how important it was that the gates are always locked in to position because there has been a big campaign on Watchdog as the swing gates can be dangerous if not secured properly. She also told me they have a lot of problems with "pikies" (NOT my language at all I need to say but theirs) stealing the padlocks.

The Senior Ranger told me that there is one contractor responsible for the locking of the gates in the evening and another company is responsible for opening the gates in the morning.

The gate itself has a big sticker on it in bright yellow stating "This barrier must always be securely locked either into the open or closed position".

The council have written to me this morning denying any responsibility whatsoever and refusing to pay for the repairs. They say that the gate was locked in the evening by the evening contractor and ...."the padlock has been removed by persons unknown sometime between the time it was locked and before the time of your accident on the morning of the 15th of May. In view of the circumstances, while I have every sympathy with you, I do not believe that either the Council or its contractors can be held responsible for the damage caused to your car which effectively was due to the actions of persons unknown. I am sorry (hah yeh really!) I am unable ot assist and can only suggest that you may wish to refer this matter to your motor insurers.....

Well I do not want to refer it to my motor insurers! The gate may well have been locked inthe evening but what about the company responsible for unlocking it! There is only an opening time of between 8am and 9am but surely if you see that gates open you expect someone has checked it? Staff were in the office but its not their job to check the gates as its contracted out!

A friend of mine had her car smashed by the councils refuse collection truck and the council tried to reject her claim too but eventually they paid up only after a mega battle. What I want to know is exactly where do I stand legally? and if they or their contractors are responsible how do I use the right phrases to the council in my letter back to them. I want to ensure I nail them if they are liable or their contractors are and I do not want to claim on my insurance. I had to claim 3 years ago and I am just coming out of that period of having to declare that point when shopping ofr cheaper insurance and was looking to getting my insurance costs down this year (policy due June!).

All advice greatfully received
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Replies

  • elaine373elaine373 Forumite
    1.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
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    Gosh, poor you. I havent a clue where you stand with this but would either go to citizens advice or see a solicitor. (citizens advice would almost certainly provide a solicitor if you are not in a position to pay to see for one.Good luck with this, i would like to know how you get on, its disgraceful.
    “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. Your really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Lucille Ball.
  • Lady_SLady_S Forumite
    1.2K Posts
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    First thing I would do is find out the name of the head of the office you are dealing with, and write to them. I think it would only cost you £60 - 80 to get a small claims action against them, and I am confident you would win.

    End of the day if its little guy against the big nasty council 9/10 they find in the case of the little guy on the basis that it is a 'shame'
  • AstarothAstaroth Forumite
    5.4K Posts
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    I am not confident that you would win to be honest.

    To win the case you have to show negligence on behalf of the council/ their contractors which is defined as "doing something that the average person wouldnt or failing to do something that the average person would".

    From an independant view point... I am one of a few people whos job it is to go round and unlock gates in the morning and as I drive up to a gate expecting to see it closed it is actually already open... it is arguably reasonable for me to consider that someone has already come along and unlocked it and therefore I simply drive on to the next job.

    I am not sure what data Lady S is basing her 9/10 cases go against councils/ large corporations as my experience is that there is no favouritism give to the "little guy" under the law of torts. There have been many well publicised cases where the little guy has not only been unsuccessful in pursuing damages but has actually been found at fault. The classic one in my view was a council that was widening a road by removing the pavement on one side. The contractors removed the pavement as instructed and repainted the centre line on the road but left the lamp posts where they were (which now made them in the middle of one lane). A driver on the road hit one of the lamp posts one morning and claimed the council were negligent for leaving them there. The court ruled (if memory serves me correctly) on a 90/10 split - the driver being 90% liable for hitting a static object and had to pay 90% of the damage to the lamp post and the council only 10% liable for having left it in the middle of the road.
    All posts made are simply my own opinions and are neither professional advice nor the opinions of my employers
    No Advertising or Links in Signatures by Site Rules - MSE Forum Team 2
  • coolsteelcoolsteel Forumite
    341 Posts
    The way i look at it is that gate should have been LOCKED OPEN, if this was done your car would be undamaged, who is to blame, the contractor or the council is the issue, i think you have a very strong case, but that's just my opinion only.
    Coolsteel:cool:
    A fool and their money are easily parted.
  • jandanjanjandanjan Forumite
    67 Posts
    Thanks for info so far. My "arguement" is that although the person may have closed it at night what about the company responsible for opening it in the morning?

    The barrier is clearly labeled it must be locked open or shut - I have photos of label- so who is responsible for ensuring that is implemented - surely not me? and who is and are they not liable to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to secure that gate which is not my gate but is there to keep people out by the council? mmmmm - I dont fancy claiming ofr this one and really would like to try again to get the council to accept some liability but it seems that might not be the case - anyone else got any other ideas?

    Thanks team
  • asharonasharon Forumite
    1.2K Posts
    If the council are saying that someone else stole the padlock and that is the reason why your car was damaged which it sounds like then if I were you I would make a small claims court claim, about £30, and surely it is up to them to have reported the theft of a padlock to the police. I know they wont have done but if they are saying that somewone stole it and then you car was damaged as a result then it would be poor if tghey had not reprted it. Surely if it was down to lciam then their insurance would have to pay for it as it is not your fault that it happened.

    I would say send another letter stating your intentions but to someone else. Or send it to a numbr of people in the council and make some noise.
    Nice to save.
  • AstarothAstaroth Forumite
    5.4K Posts
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    There is no requirement for people (or councils) to report thefts to the police and certainly a normal person would say that the theft of a £5 padlock is not reasonable use of the polices time to investigate.

    I think that you have a case to argue but I personally wouldnt say that is very strong. I think there is a fair probability of it just being "an accident" rather than someones fault (similiar to pot holes in roads causing damage to vehicles where the council is only liable if you can prove that they had been made aware of the problem and had adequate time to repair it prior to the incident).
    All posts made are simply my own opinions and are neither professional advice nor the opinions of my employers
    No Advertising or Links in Signatures by Site Rules - MSE Forum Team 2
  • jandanjanjandanjan Forumite
    67 Posts
    Yes agree re the example of the potholes but I was told that they have a lot of problems with pikies stealing the padlocks - one would then think that if they have are known problem thay should also ensure that it is secured in the morning as per their extremely large sticker on the gate that it "MUST ALWAYS be either securely in the open or closed position" which it was not and they also have run training courses on this very fact - who should check it in them orning as there were staff present ?

    Jan
  • ArchieB_2ArchieB_2 Forumite
    293 Posts
    You need to contact your motor insurers anyway. If you leave it too long you may have nowhere to get the damage paid for.
  • coolsteelcoolsteel Forumite
    341 Posts
    Padlocks cant be stolen if they are locked as this one should have been.

    Coolsteel:cool:
    A fool and their money are easily parted.
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