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Britain has been under siege from Mother Nature of late. The incessant rains and winds have caused a considerable amount of turmoil, with lots of flooding and damage across large parts of the country. The damage caused by the storms has left many hazardous problems, such as huge potholes in footpaths and pavements where tarmac has been washed away or slippery muddy residue from the flood water, leading to a potential rise in injuries caused in tripping or slipping accidents . But will insurers and businesses be liable for injuries caused and personal injury claims made as a result of the recent storm damage?
It is very hard to answer the question I have posed in a concise manner, but in short, businesses and local government agencies could well end up facing claims if they have been shown to be negligent in their handling of any hazards caused by the storms and floods, or if they have failed to adequately assess the risks that flood/storm damage may cause.
It boils down to whether or not a person, business or government department (depending on who is responsible for a particular area) had taken adequate consideration of the risks posed by any particular incident or hazard. Let’s say that a supermarket floor has become extremely wet through customers walking water in to the store from their wet feet and clothing. If the store has failed to erect hazard warning signs, placed mats out at the entrance to catch as much water as possible and failed to have any kind of cleaning in progress, then yes, if you slip on the wet floor, you will most likely succeed if you are injured and take out a claim for personal injury compensation against them. In this example, the risk of slipping on the wet floor is a foreseeable one and the management of the store should have taken every precaution possible to highlight the potential danger and do as much as they can to reduce the risk of an accident.
However, if you had tripped on a section of loose tarmac on a footpath that had appeared overnight as a result of a flood, you would not be able to hold the local authority highways department responsible for your injuries. This is because there is no way on earth that the authority would be able to repair the surface immediately or to have even been aware of the damage. Of course, if the pavement surface remains in a dangerous and disrepaired condition for a period of 6 months or more and you then fell on it, you would have a case for suing the council for personal injury compensation arising from your tripping accident. You can find out more by looking at our article about ‘how to know if you can claim compensation after tripping on a broken pavement‘. As with any accident that causes injury, if you are of the mind that you do wish to make a claim for personal injury compensation, you must ensure that the details of your accident (and injury) have been properly reported and recorded.
One thing is for certain, floods bring unpredictability and unpredictability brings a rise in accidental injuries. If you or anyone you know has been injured and you’re not sure as to whether or not there is a viable claim to be made, simply contact us and we’ll give you free, helpful and caring advice.