You may remember an incident over 10 years ago when a truck driving beneath an overpass was struck by a concrete block dropped by youths. The driver was struck on the chest and died. The youths were charged and convicted. The RTA were sued with the plaintiff (truck company) claiming that the RTA were liable for this criminal act performed by others.
The District Court agreed, and held that the RTA should have had screens installed either at the time of construction, or in the 90’s when the problem emerged. This decision would have had major impacts on the RTA and on local Councils when you consider the thousands of kilometres of roads to be dealt with.
The decision was overturned in the Court of Appeal. Amongst other reasons, this case held that unless there is a “special relationship”, such as teacher-student or employer-employee, there is no duty to protect a party from criminal activities of 3rd parties. If a duty is held to exist, the random nature of the criminal activity will be an issue when deciding what a reasonable action to mitigate risk may be. Simply put, the incidence of rock throwing was not viewed to occur regularly enough to reasonably expect the RTA to have barriers on all bridges, which means that Governments and Councils can continue with some confidence, to have a measured assessment to risks, and respond reasonably to them.
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This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.