It wasn’t me honest…
Over the course of the recent months, there have been numerous media stories that have been coming from the point of view of local authorities regarding the terrible strain that they have been placed under by the ‘growing number’ of Personal Injury Compensation Claims made against them. To us, this seems a bizarre thing for the authorities to do and it appears that they wish to shirk responsibility for their mismanagement of their statutory duties.
The media stories being released are trying to convince Joe Public that the reason for the increase in dangerous pavements that are liable to lead to injuries for which they will have to pay compensation is because of the amount of money being sucked out of their budgets to settle Personal Injury claims. Words and phrases used when mentioning claims include ‘over zealous’ ‘frivolous’ and even ‘questionable’. For those who know the truth, these stories and versions of events just don’t add up!
The authorities see it that they cannot spend money repairing the pavement surfaces because they are having to keep funds aside to fight claims and fund staff to do the defense work. Well, this doesn’t add up either. For one, they have insurance and secondly local authorities have had a statutory duty of care regarding pavement surfaces etc for 20-odd years now. The councils state that they have had to shelve repair and remedial work due to a lack of funds. Well, our argument is that if they had carried out adequate bi-annual inspection regimes, repaired dangerous pavements before they deteriorated to such an extent that the cost of making repairs ballooned.
Defending the truth
Thankfully, there have been some stories from the ‘other side of the fence’ – from the point of view of the injured party and that of Joe Public. Solicitors and Industry bodies have pointed out that there has been a declining standard of pavements and a drop in investment in repairs for many years and that there has been no new drop in repairs due to the modern ‘claims culture’ that we are being hoodwinked in to believing.
We have the knowledge of what to many, a simple fall on a damaged pavement can do to peoples lives. Clients of ours have had their entire lives turned upside down due to sustaining injuries in such falls. Often, especially to the elderly, a fracture to a wrist, leg or spine can end the independence that we all cherish. This is no small matter. In our view, the authorities must accept responsibility for making the repairs we all want to see. If the pavements are sound, inspections are carried out and minor repairs undertaken when needed, then the councils won’t face claims in the first place. Simple isn’t it?!
Duty of care
Remember, your local authority highways department has a statutory duty of care to ensure that the pavements in your area are free from hazards. If you think that there is a hazard that could cause injury, phone your council and report the matter. They can come and inspect it and decide if it requires remedial work. Let’s do our part and trust that the councils will do the same.