Slips, Trips & Falls Injury Claims
Had a Slip, Trip or Fall?
Suffering a slip, trip or fall may sound like a fairly trivial misfortune, but even the most minor fall can result in pain, injury and inconvenience, and a more awkward or difficult landing might lead to broken bones, whiplash or even some degree of paralysis. If someone else made a mistake which led to you falling then you’ve every right to pursue them for compensation. Why should someone else’s negligence lead to you suffering and being out of pocket? It shouldn’t, of course, and a personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you whether there was negligence involved in your fall and exactly who it is you should be seeking to blame.
Tripping In Public
If you trip and fall on a public walkway and feel that it had been left in a dangerous state, thus causing your fall, then your complaint and claim should be directed at the local council responsible for the upkeep of public spaces. The Highways Act of 1980 states that it is the duty of the local authority concerned to check their pavements regularly and ensure that they are safe and free from risk and obstruction.
If the path upon which you trip is on private land, on the other hand, then the owner of the land is the person who has been negligent.
One of the problems which most infuriates regular users of either the road or the pavement is the seemingly ever growing number of potholes. Bad winters and cutbacks in repair bills have led to more and more potholes appearing, and also to them taking longer to be repaired, meaning that they are more likely to trip people over.
Video providing key information on claiming for an injury caused by a slip, trip or fall, and how many of these claims are settled under a fast-track scheme.
The Highways Agency states that a claim for trip or fall compensation will be rejected if it can be shown that the Highways Authority had made reasonable efforts to repair the pothole concerned. Before examining how to go about establishing whether reasonable efforts have been made or not, it is useful to look at the actual definition of a ‘pothole’.
The publication Potholes Review Progress Report Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme, published in 2011 by the Department for Transport was a review of how best to deal with the problem of potholes moving forward. On page 8 of the report, it stated that there was no national standard definition of a pothole, but that one ought to be developed. It also pointed out that local authorities each reach individual conclusions as to what constitutes a pothole and that, generally, the depth of 40mm was accepted as being a working legal definition.
Tripping on Pavements
The situation regarding pavements is similar to that which pertains with potholes. There is no strictly legal definition of what constitutes a ‘dangerously uneven’ paving stone, but the study of cases fought and won or lost has led to an industry wide acceptance that a paving stone which protrudes by an inch or more will be deemed ‘dangerous’. In certain circumstances, a smaller defect may provide the basis for a case, but this is a general rule and your personal injury solicitor will be able to explain whether your accident fits the criteria.
Basis of a Successful Claim
According to the Highways Act, a local authority has a responsibility to keep its’ roads and pavements safe. In practice, this means that if you’ve slipped on an uneven or dangerous surface then in order to claim compensation you have to be able to show that the council concerned has had the time and opportunity to repair the defect. The process of putting together a claim runs as follows:
- Gather Evidence – record the defect which caused you to fall as quickly and accurately as possible. Measure and photograph it and take the details of any witnesses to your accident.
- Complain – make an official complaint to the relevant authority, thus establishing an official record of your accident.
- Seek medical advice – not only will this maximise your chances of recovery, but it will also create an official account of the extent of your injuries.
- Repairs – you can use a freedom of information request to find out how often the road is inspected and maintained and whether the defect has been reported before. This information will form a vital part of your case. If you can show that the authority have not inspected the road or pavement often enough, or have been aware of the defect but failed to correct it, then you have gone a large way towards demonstrating their negligence.
Tripping In A Private Place
If you slip and fall in a private space such as a supermarket, and the fall was caused by something negligent such as a wet floor, then you have every right to claim compensation from the owners for negligence. The Health and Safety Executive point out that it is the responsibility of any supermarket to make sure that floors are safe for customers, visitors and employees. It gives the following advice:
- Spillages should be cleaned and dried immediately.
- Wet floors should have warning signs on them.
- Floors should be kept in good condition. Hazardous wear and tear should be highlighted to warn customers.
- Hazards shouldn’t be left out on the floor.
If you visit a supermarket or any other public building and fall because they’ve failed to heed this advice then you may well be able to claim compensation. Building a strong case will mean gathering as much evidence as possible, including:
- Witness accounts.
- An entry in the supermarket accident book.
- Records of any medical examinations.
- If possible, photographs of whatever it was that made you slip.
- CCTV footage can be obtained from the supermarket via a Freedom of Information request.
Will my slip, trip or fall claim be on a no win no fee basis?
We have hundreds of solicitors across the UK who would happily represent you on a no win no fee basis. Contact us today and we’ll have you speaking to a qualified personal injury specialist in no time!