Filing a Claim Against the City
Filing a claim against the City is a legal action taken by an individual that feels that the City is in some way responsible for causing either damage to property or for causing an injury.
Please read through the Q&A prior to submitting a claim for answers to some frequently asked questions about the claims process and certain types of claims.
General Questions and Answers
What does filing a claim against the City mean?
Filing a notice of claim is a legal notification to the City of one’s intent to pursue their recovery of costs for damage to property or for an injury that they believe the City holds some responsibility for. The City will investigate all claims and determine if the claim is valid if the City is in any way legally liable for the loss, and what actions - if any - the City should take to remedy the claim.
How can a claim be submitted?
The most efficient way to submit a claim to the City is by using the online claims submission form on this webpage. The City also accepts notices of claim that are delivered by mail to City Hall in writing.
The Local Government Act stipulates that all notices of claim should include details, such as, the time, place, and manner that the damage was sustained. The notice of claim should also provide the name of the injured party or owner of the damaged property and all available details about the circumstances surrounding the loss to allow for an effective investigation.
What are the time limits?
The damage or injury must be reported to the City, in an appropriate manner, within 60 days of the loss having been sustained. This stipulation is provided in the Local Government Act, section 736, and it provides a defence to the City if a claim is not delivered within the specified time limit.
Who can file a notice of claim?
A notice of claim should be submitted by the registered owner of the damaged property or the person that is injured. An insurance company, a lawyer, or litigation guardian acting on behalf of the claimant can also file a claim. The claim must be received by the City within 60 days of the date of loss. If the damaged property belongs to a company, a manager with sufficient authority to act on behalf of the company in legal matters should submit the claim. If both an insurer and a property owner file a claim, the City will only deal with the insurer.
How is a claim investigated?
Claims are received in the City’s Risk & Procurement Division. The notice of claim is examined to make sure that it meets the requirements of a notice of claim, as defined in section 736 of the Local Government Act. If a claim is submitted electronically, using the claims submission form, then an acknowledgement email is automatically sent out with information about the claims process.
The Risk & Procurement Division will obtain records stored in various City systems, review evidence, and obtain information from different divisions that might be involved. The City might also hire an independent adjuster to gather information, or get further details from the claimant or witnesses. Claims are received in the City’s Risk & Procurement Division. The notice of claim is examined to make sure that it meets the requirements of a notice of claim, as defined in section 736 of the Local Government Act.
If a claim is submitted electronically, using the claims submission form, then an acknowledgement email is automatically sent out with information about the claims process. The Risk & Procurement Division will obtain records stored in various City systems, review evidence, and obtain information from different divisions that might be involved. The City might also hire an independent adjuster to gather information, or get further details from the claimant or witnesses.
How long will it take to receive a response?
There is no set timeline in which a response to a claim might be provided. Generally, a claim’s decision will take anywhere between a few days to a few months to resolve. All claims vary in complexity and severity. Communication and clarification of details with different parties that are involved could take time. Investigations often uncover additional details or evidence that requires further analysis. Please be patient while your claim is evaluated and a decision is made as to whether the City is legally liable for your loss.
What if I disagree with the response that I receive?
The City does not have an appeals process. Once a decision is made, it is final, and the only way that a claim will be reconsidered is if significant new and additional information not already considered is provided. If a claim is reconsidered, it might not result in a change of the outcome. If you continue to disagree with the City’s response to your claim, you will have to bring an action before the courts.
Who is responsible for cleanup and repairs?
The property owner is responsible for conducting cleanup and repairs as needed. The exception is in the case of a broken or fallen tree because the Parks division will assist in removing the fallen tree and its limbs. The City does not take possession of nor conduct repairs to private property.
It is also up to property owners to mitigate their damage and prevent further loss. If the City is deemed responsible for damages, the settlement will be reduced to account for depreciation, age, and wear and tear, otherwise known as actual cash value (ACV).
Some additional good reasons to let your insurance company to handle your damage are that insurers are experienced with property restoration, they have a network of professionals at their disposal, and often insurance policies provide replacement cost as opposed to ACV.
What if a City tree breaks and damages my property?
There are several hundred thousand trees located on city property in boulevards, parks, and urban forest areas, located throughout the city. Accidents involving trees or branches sometimes happen, particularly in high winds or under the weight of snow. When a claim is received, the City will look at the history of the tree to see whether it had prior notice of the condition of the tree and, if it did, what steps it took in response.
In cases where a City tree has broken, crews will remove the damaged tree or branches and clean up any tree debris. Owners of damaged property will be advised that they are responsible for the cost of repairs to their property and to make a claim against their insurance company for the property damage.
What if my vehicle or property was damaged by construction?
The City will determine if the work was being completed for the City, by the City, or being conducted by a contractor. If the claim results from a project being done by a City contractor, we will provide you with the name of the contractor so that you can file a claim with them. Contractually , the City is not responsible for claims caused by contractors.
What if I hit a pothole or road hazard?
If your vehicle is unsafe or not operating property, do not drive it until it is inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic. Contact your insurance company to make a claim and to determine if your damage is covered under your policy.
Please notify the City of the exact location of the pothole or road hazard as soon as possible so that a roads crew can be dispatched (dial 311 in City limits). Generally, the City does not pay for damages to a vehicle when it is driven into a pothole. A City is only required to keep its roads in a reasonable state, not a perfect state, and the City relies on section 744 of the Local Government Act, which states that a municipality is not liable for damages caused by the malfunction or breakdown of a road.
What if my property is flooded by a broken water main or water service?
You own the water service from your building to the curb stop (this includes the connection to the curb stop) which is typically within 1 meter of the property line but the location can vary on either side of the property line. The City owns the curb stop valve, service connection, and water main. From time to time, the City will use the excavation that a property owner has conducted, as an opportunity to replace the curb stop valve. This proactive maintenance is for the benefit of the property owner and it will prolong the lifespan of the water system and mitigate the chance that a future excavation will need to be conducted.
“Water Service” means a pipe including all valves, connections, taps, meters and all appurtenances connecting a curb stop to a house or building.
“Service Connection” means a pipe and the necessary valves and protective boxes, connections, thaw wires, and any other material necessary to and actually used to connect the water main to a curb stop.
In the event a defect is suspected in the Service Connection or Water Service, the City will, as soon as practicable determine if the defect exists in the Service Connection. If the defect is determined to be located in the Service Connection, the City shall repair the defect at no cost to the owner. If the defect is determined to be located in the Water Service, the defect shall be repaired by the owner at no cost to the City.
The Water Service shall be maintained at the sole expense of the owner including any portion that is installed by the City. In the event any defect is discovered in the Water Service, the owner shall repair the defect within ten (10) working days of being directed to do so by the City’s Utilities staff.
The City is not liable for damages caused due to the breakdown or malfunction of a water system, as defined in section 736 of the Local Government Act. This includes damages that might result if a water main suddenly and unexpectedly fails.
For more information:
What do I do if my sewer backs up into my building?
The sewer service from a house to the sewer main is the section of underground pipe between a building and the City's sewer main. Property owners are responsible for cleaning the sewer service all the way from a building to the sewer main, including the connection with the main. The City is only responsible for maintaining the sewer mainline. It is important to call the City immediately in the event of a sewer backup so that the City can determine if the blockage is in the main (dial 311 in the City). The City can verify if the main is blocked by examining surrounding manholes.
Most sewer backups happen because the sewer service is blocked. Blockages may be caused by roots, grease, wipes, rags, fishing line, rocks and other debris, or by a broken service. It is the responsibility of the property owner to determine if a defect exists in the service connection. The most common method of determining if a defect exists is by hiring a plumber to CCTV the line. If the City agrees that there is in fact a defect in the service connection, the City will repair damages to the service connection and may reimburse part of the cost of the plumber’s bill for the CCTV inspection.
The City relies on section 736 of the Local Government Act with respect to damages caused by a sewer backup, in either the main or the service, which states that a City is not liable for damages caused by the malfunction or breakdown of a sewer system.
For more information:
What if my vehicle is hit with winter abrasives from a plow truck?
More often than not, the rocks that hit a vehicle when a plow passes are kicked up by the plows tires or the blade of the plow. Flying rocks are a common hazard while driving in winter conditions and should be expected in Northern BC. Rock chips that happen to vehicles and windshields are not the result of the negligence of the City of Prince George.
The sander is located under the body of the truck and abrasive is applied toward the ground. The City takes precautions such as pre-screening fracture material and keeping plows operating at certain speeds. The City does not use unscreened material that may contain rocks. The particles in the winter abrasive mix need to be heavy enough to stay on the road in wind, large enough not to vanish under new snow or freezing rain, and yet small enough to keep the frustrating windshield chips and paint dings to a minimum. If a rock strikes your windshield, the potential damage has more to do with the rock’s impact velocity than its size.
The City, like other municipalities and the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure contractors, uses abrasives both proactively and in response to existing conditions to maintain public roads in a safe state. There are certain objectives for applying abrasives effectively, namely, no gaps in areas that are prone to snow or ice buildup and on curves or changes in grade. The operators of the plow might not stop applying abrasive material in the presence of traffic as this could create gaps which may lead to unsafe roads. The maintenance of roads is imperative to prevent serious collisions in the winter. The best course of action for oncoming traffic to take when they see a plow is to slow down and pull to the side of the road if it is safe to do so. The best action when following a plow is to remain well behind it and not attempt to pass it.
What if I am injured on City property?
In most cases, when an injury claim is submitted, the City will appoint an independent claims adjuster to evaluate your claim, collect further information, and recommend settlement or other courses of action.
Please ensure that you report your injury to the City, as soon as possible, to allow for prompt investigation and correction of any factors that may have contributed to your injury.
File a Claim
Documents and photos supporting a claim can be emailed to
File a Claim by Mail
City of Prince George
Attention: Manager, Risk and Procurement Division
1100 Patricia Boulevard
Prince George, BC V2L 3V9
Legal Notices of Claim may be addressed to:
City of Prince George
Attention: Corporate Officer
1100 Patricia Boulevard
Prince George, BC V2L 3V9
Local Government Act
The Local Government Act states:
"A municipality, council, regional district, board or improvement district, or a greater board, is not liable in any action based on nuisance, or on the rule in the Rylands vs. Fletcher case if the damages arise, directly or indirectly, out of the breakdown or malfunction of:
- A sewer system
- Water or drainage facility or system
- Dike or a road
NOTE: There are strict time limitations under the Local Government Act for claims to be submitted.
The Local Government Act – Subsection 736(1) states:
"A municipality is in no case liable for damages unless notice in writing, setting out the time, place, and manner in which the damage has been sustained, is delivered to the municipal clerk within two months from the date on which the damage was sustained."