PETALING JAYA: The government can be held liable for injuries or deaths caused by defects such as potholes on roads and the people have legal avenues to pursue damages from the relevant agencies.
In a statement, Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir also said that the people must know their rights when it comes to road safety concerns.
“It is the Malaysian Bar’s view that poor maintenance work must be regarded as a threat to national well-being and must be handled with the utmost priority.
“Government agencies can be held vicariously liable for the negligence in maintaining roadworthiness and the failure to perform their statutory duties in ensuring the safety of road users,” he said.
This comes after two deaths stemming from pothole-related accidents occurring in as many days, the first involving a 75-year-old motorcyclist and the second a food delivery rider.
Salim called the frequency and severity of such accidents “unacceptable”, and said the Public Works Department (JKR) owes a duty of care to road users.
He added that claimants seeking civil remedy have 36 months, or three years, from the date of the breach or damage arising from the negligent act pursuant to Section 2 of the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 to do so.
Recently, the Shah Alam High Court granted a Pakistani national’s appeal to claim RM48,700 for negligence against the government for injuries sustained after he was involved in a pothole accident in 2014.
Additionally, Salim said that road conditions must be taken into account when charging any individual with reckless or dangerous driving under the Road Transport Act 1987, as the unworthiness of the road may be a contributing factor to a driver’s actions, such as swerving to avoid a pothole and causing an accident.
He called on the government and relevant authorities to take immediate action to ensure that roads are well-maintained to ensure the safety of the public.
Further, Salim sought to remind the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros), an agency under the transport ministry, that they have the responsibility to take action towards raising awareness about road safety and the dangers of potholes to road users.