Claiming Compensation From Councils and Local Authorities

Injuries caused by the council or local authority

Your local council and local authority owe a duty of care to you and anyone else using their premises and publicly owned areas. They must ensure they are safe to use and safe to work in. If they do not, they could face a compensation claim if someone has suffered loss or personal injury.

What is a local authority’s duty of care?

Councils and local authorities owe a duty of care to maintain public spaces, such as parks and roads, and their properties, including schools and leisure centres. They must keep their public spaces and properties safe. If they fail to maintain their land and property, and someone is injured as a result, a successful negligence claim may follow. Most injury claims today will be taken on by a solicitor on a no win no fee basis.

DID YOU KNOW: Examples of a local authority’s breach of duty include failure to remove tripping hazards such as debris or fallen trees; failure to fill pot holes or to repair uneven pavements or roads, and generally poor maintenance procedures.

How do I claim after tripping?

If you have tripped over on an uneven pavement, or suffered a similar injury by, for instance, twisting your ankle by stepping into a pot hole on council land, you may be able to make a compensation claim against the local authority.

However, you must be able to prove that the local authority breached its duty of care and that the injury was a direct result of the local authority’s breach of duty. The local authority is required to act reasonably when alerted to a hazardous situation on its land or property so, once notified, the local authority must act reasonably in discharging its responsibilities. If it doesn’t, only then will the local authority be found to have breached its duty.

For example, if a period of heavy and sustained frosts results in pot holes in the road, the local authority is unlikely to be liable for loss or injury that results from those incidents involving such pot holes in the immediate period after those frosts, particularly if it has not been made aware of them. However, if it can be shown that the local authority was notified but nothing is done within a reasonable period of time, the local authority will probably be found to have breached its duty of care.

Even when the local authority is carrying out maintenance and repair work on its land, it must exercise its duty of care towards the public. Appropriate signage, for instance, should be erected to warn passers-by of repair work. If no warnings are visible and someone trips and falls, they could then make a claim for personal injury compensation.

Once you have shown the local authority breached its duty of care towards you, you must have evidence to prove that your personal injury or other loss or damage directly resulted from the local authority’s negligence. This is likely to take the form of photographic evidence, medical evidence and witness statements.

How do I claim for playground and leisure centre accidents?

The local authority has a duty of care to the public, including children and young people using recreation playgrounds on their land and leisure centres, including swimming pools. Children, by their very nature, are more accident prone than adults. However, where an accident at a playground of leisure centre directly results from a local authority’s negligence and breach of duty of care, a personal injury claim can be made.

As well as a common law duty of care to playground and leisure centre users, the local authority has a statutory duty under sections 3 and 4 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure the health and safety of its users so far as is reasonably practicable.

There are additional statutory requirements for appropriate risks assessments of the facilities offered; the need for safety policies that include meeting the risks and appropriate training; and occupiers’ liability laws under which the public are entitled to expect to be reasonably safe when using the playground. Importantly, greater care is required where children are concerned.

If your child has been injured while using local authority facilities, it is particularly important to take legal advice as early as possible.

How do I claim for an injury while working for a local authority?

More than a million people work for local authorities and councils throughout the UK. If you have been injured while working for the local authority, you may be able to make a claim for personal injury against the local authority.

As an employer, the local authority has the same common law duty of care towards you, a worker, as all other employers. They also have statutory obligations to workers under health and safety legislation. The local authority is required to take all reasonable steps to ensure workers’ health, safety and wellbeing – meaning both their physical and mental well-being.

Their duty towards local authority employees is wide, and ranges from providing and maintaining a safe working environment, and undertaking appropriate risk assessments – to adequate training, and protecting staff from bullying and harassment.

If the local authority has breached its duty towards you and you have suffered personal injury, disease or mental health problems as a direct result, you can make a claim for personal injury. To make a claim, you will need to demonstrate that the harm or personal injury directly resulted from the local authority’s breach of duty (negligence) to you as an employee.

If you have suffered an injury due to an accident at work while employed by a local authority, it is important to contact an expert injury solicitor as soon as possible. It is also worth noting that you cannot be sacked for making a compensation claim, and the money will not come directly from your employer – any payouts will be made by your employer’s insurance company.

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