Slips, trips and falls on pavements are all too common. Some of the time, they’re just accidents where we trip over our shoelaces or aren’t paying attention to where we’re going. In these cases, we feel a little silly, get back up and just keep on walking.
However, there are also times where serious accidents happen because a stretch of pavement hasn’t been properly maintained. For example, this might include cracked surfaces, or raised pavement due to tree roots, as well as potholes and damaged curbs.
After suffering from a trip or fall, you might need to spend time in hospital or see a doctor. If your injuries are bad, it’s likely you’ve had to take time off work which can be expensive and stressful. Suffering because of somebody else’s negligence can feel very unfair – and the situation can be made much worse if you’re also having to worry about your finances on top of everything else.
If your accident happened in the last three years and was caused by badly maintained paving, there’s a good chance an expert solicitor will be able to help you make a compensation claim. Your compensation could cover the costs of your injury, as well as the impact it’s had on your life.
It’s a good idea to call a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 as soon as possible while the accident’s still fresh in your mind. They’ll speak to you for free and can put you in touch with a specialist solicitor to help you with you start your case.
Once your solicitor has found out a bit more about your injury and how your accident happened, they may be able to give you a rough idea of how much compensation you could receive. For example, minor ankle injuries including fractures which fully heal may be worth around £5,000.
But if your injuries are more serious, it’s much more difficult for us to estimate how much you could get. This is because your compensation is worked out based on the type of injury you’ve suffered, how serious that injury is, and the impact it’s had on your life. These can very a lot from case to case – so it’s hard to give you a figure early in the process.
However, to get a rough guideline, you can try our compensation calculator.
These figures do not include compensation for financial damages, such as lost wages due to time off work. The final amount you receive will take into account these losses, as well as compensation for the pain and suffering caused the injury itself.
There are laws in place to keep you safe while you’re on public walkways – somebody is responsible for every stretch of pavement (usually the local authority), and they have a legal duty of care to make sure pavements and walkways are safe for use.
According to the Highways Act 1980, the local authority has to check pavements regularly to make sure they’re in a safe condition and free from obstructions.
Although there’s no official legal definition of an unsafe pavement, based on cases which have been brought to court in the past, a defect of more than an inch in height is generally thought of as being ‘unreasonable’.
If you’re unsure whether you could claim, you can speak to a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 who will be able to let you know whether the pavement damage which caused your trip could be considered ‘unreasonable’ – and can tell you whether they think you can make a claim.
If you trip on over on privately owned land – such as in a supermarket car park – you might still be able to make a compensation claim. In these cases, your claim will be made against the person or company that owns the land.
Private land and property owners have a responsibility under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 to make sure their property is safe, and this includes making sure pathways are free from tripping hazards.
A landowner’s duty of care applies to everyone, so it’s possible you’ll still be able to claim even if you were trespassing on someone’s land. But your solicitor will need to get hold of enough evidence to prove that the property owner failed in their duty of care, and that your injuries happened as a direct result.
Your solicitors will never pass judgement on your wrongdoing – they’ll only be concerned with helping you making a successful claim to compensate you for your injuries.
To make a claim after a trip or fall on a pavement, your solicitor will need to prove two main things:
Not all pavement damage is someone’s fault. Poor weather can make many walkways and pavements dangerous, and you should make sure you wear footwear for the conditions, slow down and take extra care.
In some cases, the property owner or local authority might be expected to put up warning signs, but that depends on the circumstances. The fact is, sometimes accidents do happen when no one can be held responsible.
However, if you think someone was negligent and you slipped or tripped through no fault or your own, your solicitor will need to prove that they failed to uphold their duty of care to you, and that this directly caused your injuries.
An important part of any successful claim is showing that the local authority knew about the damaged pavement but hadn’t repaired it within a reasonable amount of time.
If your local authority says that they the defect was new and they didn’t know about it, then your solicitor can put in a Freedom of Information request – this means they’ll need to give information on the inspection regime and share any reports of faulty pavements.
Your personal injury solicitor will work hard to build the strongest case possible for you. They’ll do most of the work on your behalf, but there are a few details you can gather which might help your claim go smoothly.
One of the strongest pieces of evidence for pavement trip and fall claims is photographs. As soon as you can, it’s best to take photographs of the damaged walkway or pavement, using a ruler or tape measure in the photo to show the size.
Other things which will help with your case are:
If you feel that your ready to discuss your accident, you can speak to a trained legal adviser free on 0800 234 6438 or request a callback by submitting the online claim form. There is no obligation to make a claim after contacting an adviser.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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