Part of the council’s job is to keep public spaces safe and in good condition
Have you ever walked over broken or uneven paving slabs and thought “there’s an accident waiting to happen”?
Well, count yourself lucky as chances are, someone else won’t see it.
We tend to think of tripping on a loose or raised paving stone as something that happens to the elderly or frail – those who aren’t so steady on their feet. But the facts don’t bear this out.
Fortunately, tripping and falling on a broken or uneven pavement usually causes little more than a grazed knee and a bruised ego.
For some, it can result in broken bones, muscle damage and other serious injuries.
One of the main jobs of local councils is to keep public spaces in good repair, safe and fit for purpose.
So if you suffer an injury from their failure to do this, then you can make a compensation claim.
How to make a successful claim…
1. Check the details
The surface defect that caused the accident must be reasonably serious.
As a rule of thumb, the raised paving stone or pothole needs to measure a minimum of an inch to be considered for compensation. Smaller defects do cause accidents, but the law tends not to hold councils responsible.
2. You only have three years
Secondly, if you want to make a claim, you need to do so within 3 years of the accident.
3. Is it ‘reasonably serious’?
It must have caused a reasonably serious injury – a grazed knee that heals up after a week or two probably won’t get much sympathy from a judge.
4. Keep everything
It’s essential that you see a doctor immediately, that all your injuries are recorded, and that you get a certificate for any time you need off work.
Collect as much evidence of the accident as you can.
Take photographs of the scene – place a coin or box of matches next to the defect to show how big it is in comparison.
Make a note of the weather conditions, street lighting and so on – anything that might have contributed to your fall.
Try and get the names and contact details of any witnesses, and write a letter to your local council to report the accident, keeping a copy for your records.
Can you claim?
Your claim is not guaranteed to succeed, though, even if you have a serious fall and you do all these things.
Your claim can be rejected if the council can prove that they have a good system in place to inspect the pavement, and they have carried out these inspections on a regular basis.
An experienced lawyer knows how to challenge this kind of defence, and can greatly improve your chances of a successful claim.
(Daily Mirror article)