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Title: Leaking water main peril

Date: 02 March 2011

 

Question
 
Can you tell me if there is a responsibility for water providers to fix leaks which may cause black ice. I have just come off and damaged my bike on black ice caused by what I think is a leaking water main in the road. Is there anything that can be done?
 
Chris Matthews
 
Answer
 
Section 209 (1) of The Water Industry Act 1991 applies. It states that where there is an escape of water, however caused, from a pipe vested in a water undertaker causes loss or damage, the undertaker shall be liable.
 
This is a case of strict liability or in other words an absolute duty without proof of carelessness or knowledge of the leak. A water undertaker is the company responsible for the provision of the service. Where the leak has frozen over to cause black ice the same duty applies.
 
I have succeeded in a fatal accident case in exactly your circumstances. In that case the water undertaker tried to argue that the tube carrying the water was not a pipe and you can imagine how successful they were with that argument!
 
You are therefore entitled to claim damages from the relevant water undertaker. Your damages will be the damage to your bike and kit, for injuries sustained and for financial losses arising out of the accident.

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