Can you claim injury compensation after tripping on a broken pavement?

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In the UK, your local council has a duty to maintain roads, paths and pavements to make sure that walkers and road users are safe from injury. If a surface hasn’t been maintained properly and you’ve tripped or fallen on an uneven pavement or pothole, you may be entitled to claim compensation for any injuries.

Here we look at the circumstances in which you’d have a valid pavement injury claim, and how to go about it.

What the law says about pavement accident claims

There are some common misconceptions out there as to what merits a valid claim for slip and trip personal injury compensation after a fall on a damaged path or pavement. Many people wrongly believe that any fall in public that leads to injuries (commonly wrist, ankle, foot, kneehip or ligament injuries) means they can sue the council. The truth however is very different, and to succeed with a claim there are certain criteria that must be met.

Firstly, to make a claim against a local authority or other land owner after a slip, trip or fall, the claimant must demonstrate that the defect (a raised edge, or hole, for example) which lead to their accident met specific size requirements, usually more than 1 inch.

Secondly, anyone looking to succeed with a claim will need to prove that the defendant failed to adequately inspect and maintain the pavements and road within their responsibility, and therefore left a dangerous hazard in situ.

Thirdly, a claimant will need to demonstrate that the hazard that caused them to sustain injury was present for a period of at least 6 months before their accident date.

Local council legal duties to prevent pavement accidents

While councils have a duty of care to prevent pavement accidents, they are understandably given some leeway in terms of how fast they can be expected to fix defects. The courts have stated that landowners and local authorities require ample time to inspect the footpaths and roads in their area, identify and then repair any hazards or faults to reduce the risk of injury to the public.

Any defects found that have a vertical tripping edge of 1″ or more should be listed for repair and removed from the footpath as quickly as possible. If a hazard has been in situ for 6 months or MORE, it should have been highlighted for repair IF the local authority correctly inspected the pavement in question.

In general, councils have the following responsibilities when it comes to roads and pavements:

  • To have a system to regularly inspect roads and footpaths for accident risks
  • To check busier routes more regularly than less used ones
  • To repair any defects within a reasonable time
  • To act on any public reports of dangerous surfaces within a reasonable time
  • To signpost any hazards or dangers to the public

Failing to uphold these responsibilities could leave a council open to having to pay compensation to anyone injured as a result of their negligence.

Trip hazard height – use photographic evidence to make a claim

To succeed with a claim for compensation for injuries sustained in a pavement accident, it is important to provide clear photographic evidence of the trip hazard height. This will help your solicitor to prove that an alleged 3rd party are liable, that an ‘actionable defect’ was in situ and should have been repaired.

Claimants should ensure that they have taken or obtained photographs of a hazard that caused them to fall BEFORE it is repaired. With most people now having a camera built in to their mobile phones, obtaining evidential photographs is easy and should always be done. To take a good photograph, the height of the defect should be shown against a clear measurement. Most people don’t carry a ruler or measure with them, but a 50p or other coin against the vertical edge of a pothole or raised paving stone makes for a good alternative as it provides something to indicate the size of the hole or raised edge at the centre of the claim.

Raised paving flagstone protruding by in excess of 25mm

Paving stone, raised by more than 1 inch

The hazard shown in the above example is on the acceptable edge of being deemed ‘actionable’ (a hazard likely to succeed in a claim for compensation) although it is borderline. The photographs show clear measurements with the defect just exceeding 25mm/1″ from the surrounding surface level. The location of the defect (in terms of background landmarks) and enabling the direction of travel to be seen further strengthens a claim for tripping accident compensation.

Close up of hazard with clear depth measurement

Proof of hazard position and direction of travel

As well as photographs, a strong claim will provide further evidence in the form of:

  • Witness contact details
  • An accident report noting the location and date
  • A medical report on the injuries sustained and treatment required
  • Receipts for any expenses incurred

How much compensation do you get for tripping on a pavement?

Compensation payouts depend on injury severity, your financial losses and the impact on your quality of life. Usually we will claim for the following on your behalf:

  • The pain and distress caused to you by the injuries sustained
  • Associated costs and losses
  • Lost earnings if you have been away from work as a result of the accident
  • Medical treatments, rehabilitation therapies and post accident care
  • Restrictions on your ability to fulfil your usual activities and social life
  • The psychological impact of your injury
  • Miscellaneous expenses (bus fares, painkillers etc)

There are guidelines issued by the courts for solicitors, but it’s impossible to say exactly how much you can expect as all cases vary. As a guide, some settlement values are listed in the table below for common fall injury claims, this is for the injury only, not including lost wages or expenses, for example:

Type of injuryCompensation amount
Neck injury£2,000 - £140,000
Minor brain or head injury£2,070 - £11,980
Finger injury£4,000 - £85,000
Wrist injury£3,310 - £44,690
Hip or pelvis injury£3,710 - £24,950
Fractured forearm£6,190 - £18,020
Permanent back injury£11,730 - £26,050
Serious shoulder injury£11,980 - £18,020
Ankle injury£12,900 - £46,980

How to report your pavement accident to the council

The UK Government website has a handy page where you can find the relevant department of the local council responsible for the area in which you fell. You should report your accident to them, describing the hazard and its location, what injuries you’ve sustained and what medical treatment you have received.

Try to take photographs of the accident site showing the depth or height of the hazard with clear measurements. You could also get the names and contact details of any witnesses, as this will provide further evidence.

Before sending all this in, our best advice is to hire a specialist personal injury solicitor to run your claim, as this will give you the best chance of succeeding.

The evidence you’ll need

In order to win injury compensation, claimants must gather as much evidence as possible to help their solicitor force the council to admit liability.

Medical evidence

If you haven’t had medical treatment, it is likely that your injuries will not be seen as sufficiently serious to warrant a claim for compensation. This is because medical evidence is needed to support your claim. If you have been suffering in silence and haven’t seen the GP, you still can. If the GP is happy to note that your injuries are consistent with those suffered as a result of a trip, for example, you can then prove your injuries and pursue a claim.

Hazard evidence

Even if your injuries are severe, the pavement must still have a vertical tripping edge in excess of 25mm for you to have a valid claim. That’s a fairly easy thing for a claimant to identify when they look at what’s caused their fall, and photographs of the hazard can be taken for proof.

The more complex issue is proving how long the raised flagstone or uneven pavement surface has been there. The claimant needs to demonstrate that the hazard that caused their accident has been in situ for a minimum of 6 months, and sometimes 12 months. So how do you do this?


To greatly increase the strength of  your claim, you can obtain witness evidence from local shop keepers, residents or other regular users of a pavement regarding its condition. These people may not have witnessed the claimant’s accident, but instead can be a witness to a hazard being present. They can state where the hazard is, what it is, the rough dimensions of the hazard and how long it has been in situ. If an independent person can state that they have seen the hazard in situ for a minimum of 6 months and sign a statement to that effect, it helps to show that the local authority have either failed to inspect the area or carry out adequate repairs.

For example, if the hazardous pavement is in a residential area, it is likely that the local residents will know how long it has been there for. Furthermore, one of them may have reported it to the council already. As an injured claimant, you should approach these residents and ask if they know about the damaged pavement and how long it has been there. If one of them does, you could ask them if they would be willing to act as a hazard witness.

Most people are more than willing to act as a witness to support a claimant, as this can help to make sure that the local authority speed up their inspection and repair regime.

How to start a no win no fee pavement accident claim

If you can prove council liability and your injuries are severe enough, you will be eligible to claim compensation for them. Our no win, no fee solicitors can claim for the following on your behalf:

  • The pain and distress caused to you by your injuries
  • Associated costs and losses (special damages)
  • Restrictions on your ability to fulfil your usual activities and social life

No win no fee enables you to make a claim without it costing you anything if the claim fails to succeed. If you win, your solicitor gets around 25% of the value of your claim.

Instructing the services of a specialist claims expert is always a good idea to give your claim the best possible chances of success.

At Direct2Compensation we know your rights and how to ensure that any claim for tripping accident compensation is presented in the best possible light. We know how to identify whether a hazard presents a valid claim, and how to ensure that the right evidence is in place to give you the best prospects of succeeding.

If you believe that you have a claim for compensation after a pavement accident, or want to ask about whether or not your injuries will entitle you to claim, you can call us on 01225 430285 or  and one of our expert team will be in touch. We’ll only need a few minutes of your time to let you know if you can make a claim and there is no charge for assessing your case.

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Comments & Questions

Read on for questions and advice about claiming, plus pavement claim examples...

Sorry it’s late just looking and I see a claim for a fall outside my house and later that day I was uneven path outside so ruseh in hospital signs of a strok so abalance with blue lights I was taken straight too resus then I had a CT scan the doctor was really nice person and all the doctors looked after me so I have been paralysed from waist down it was so scarred the strok ward and the I was taken to a medical ward and I was put on side ward the nurse there was plenty on my ward I was just in this room and they are supposed attending to the alarm is going off tgat could be anything and this what happened to me so I was told to sit in this chair and so then I went to get up with my crucfh and it got stuck and I fell and because I was week at my sides a si was calling for the nurse and I managed too get the alarm and was calling the night nurses but did g come so 45 mins I was calling and I started to shout and a sister walk past and I called her she came I. I and then was a few nurse trying to pick me up and put me o. The bed and my body was numb down one side and I was so upset that none of the nurses Jess now numb all the way down I was I. Hospital 3 weeks I wanted too go home Christmas Eve they arrange the hospital to discharge me I have been at home haveing careS 4 times a day I have so much more but I will leave you and I get back too you

Ian Morris

You may well have grounds to pursue a claim – but we will not be able to say for certain until we view some photographs of the uneven pathway where you fell. Please send some images of the area to us at in order that we can view them and then advise you accordingly.


What if u didn’t break any bones, but u bruised yourself pretty bad and what the crack what less the 1/2inch , they even saw it on video camera that I fell

Ian Morris

Case law and the accepted prescribed criteria from the courts in cases of tripping accident claims generally requires that a tripping hazard exceed 25mm or 1″ in differentiation from the surrounding surface level. In exceptional circumstances, it would be possible to succeed with a claim where a hazard fell below this threshold, but that would be a genuine rarity – such as if a path directly outside of a home for those with physical or visual disabilities had been allowed to be anything other than flat with no hazards.

Whilst it could well be the case that you do not have grounds to hold the landowners liable in this matter given a 1/2″ hazard, we would be more than happy to review any photographs you can send of the accident site as it may be that we can identify grounds for a claim that may otherwise not seem obvious. If you have any photographs of the hazard that you’d like us to review, please email them to us at so that we can advise with more certainty.

Ian Morris

If you have tripped on a section of pavement or footpath where a tripping hazard does not exceed 25mm or 1″, it is very unlikely that you would succeed with a claim. The courts have essentially ruled that for a claimant to be able to prove negligence in a tripping accident claim on the part of a local authority or other landowner, they must demonstrate the following criteria are met:

1, The tripping hazard exceeds 25mm in height or depth from the surrounding pavement/surface level
2, The tripping hazard in question has been in situ for such time that the landowner/local authority should have identified the disrepair and carried out remedial repairs. (This is generally set at a period of 12 months)
3, The injuries sustained in the tripping hazard meet the required severity of injury threshold to enable a claim to proceed.

In your case, it would seem that the defect in question is unlikely to meet the criteria needed as per point 1 above.


Hi I tripped over a defect on a footpath where the tarmac was raised by the tree roots. This was reported to the council and they resurfaced the whole path. This was near a primary school so I would think it was checked regularly. I still have shoulder problems 8 month later and am having physio. I have a few photos a friend got at the time. The defect was reported as a defect at the time of incident to dmbc. How straightforward is this case?

Ian Morris

Claims for tripping accident compensation are never particularly straightforward – but that is where having a specialist Solicitor, like those who act for our clients, proves to be of benefit. The courts have made it quite hard for people injured by tripping on a disrepaired or damaged pavement to prove that a local authority have been negligent, but with the expertise and know-how that our Solicitors have, we can give you the best chance of succeeding with a claim.

In this case, I would agree that there should be a higher duty of care given the accident location being near to a primary school and we would very much like to further consider this matter for you.

If you could email the photographs you have of the pavement where you fell to us at (and include a contact number) we will review the matter and then advise accordingly. Our Solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis and would seek to obtain compensation for the injury that you are still suffering with along with recovering any costs you may have incurred and seeking private rehabilitation therapy if appropriate.

If you would like to further discuss this with us, please call us on 01225430285.


My mother has had fall due to broken road/pot hole, but we have been told that the lane is not council owned. My Mother has a broken wrist and other injuries. Is she able to make a claim?

Ian Morris

If the road or street in question is privately owned or ‘unadopted’ it may still be possible to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation. Please forward some photographs of the accident site to us at along with a contact number and we can then review this and advise you further. When taking close up photographs of the pothole, please ensure that measurements of the width and important, the depth are visible. We would also like to have a few photographs showing the general area as well as the close up images.


I tripped over a flag stone causing me to cut my leg and arm and having a mini stroke, the council said I can’t claim because it as to be 20mm up and it was 11mm.

Ian Morris

Sadly the reality is that if the tripping hazard on the pavement surface does not protrude by more than 25mm, the courts will not find against the local authority as the defect would not meet the required criteria.


I had a fall today and twisted my ankle on an uneven pavement. I hurt my right leg and hurt my left knee and my left ankle is really painful and I can’t walk on my foot. I also hurt my head and have headaches. I have taken pain killers which have not worked.

Ian Morris

We can assist you in ascertaining whether or not you are in a position to make a claim for personal injury compensation. However, we need to see some photographs of the accident site showing the state of the pavement to be able to advise you further. Please therefore send some photographs to us showing close up images of the point of your fall – showing the hazard and disrepaired area responsible for your accident along with a few images from further back showing the general area.

It is important that your injuries are attended to by a Doctor or at A&E so that your medical records are updated as the records will provide important medical evidence to support your claim should you be able to take this further.


Hello I fell badly onto my face in a supermarket car park – I went to get a trolley but as it was dark i could not see the kerb and was in darkness – other areas had lighting but not by the trolley – I tripped and fell face first onto the pavement kerb and smashed my glasses – sustained injuries to bones, hands and knees and now ache as if i have been run over – can i claim against supermarket?

Ian Morris

If there was lighting covering the area, but that lighting was broken/not working or obstructed, you may have grounds to pursue a claim. If however, the area doesn’t have direct lighting and you simply fell due to not being able to see, you would be unlikely to be able to demonstrate any negligence against the supermarket.


The courts have established that a tripping defect must be raised above or sink below the surrounding surface by a minimum of 25mm (1 inch) to be deemed to be an ‘actionable’ defect. With this in mind, during any highways inspections (or if the tripping hazard had been reported to the local authority), the highways officer would not be required to undertake repairs.

In your case, if the defect does not meet the actionable defect criteria, whilst the tripping hazard may have been in situ for some time, the courts would not find against the local authority and it would not be viable to pursue a claim against them.


I tripped on an uneven drain cover and broke my knee cap, I have spoken to two no win no fee company’s and neither of them are willing to take on my case.
Am I right in thinking if there not willing to take this case on then I shouldn’t bother to challenge this any longer?

Ian Morris

When it comes to claim enquiries such as the one you describe, we first need to view some photographic evidence of the accident site in order to ascertain whether or not the disrepair or hazard that has caused the fall and injury meets the minimum criteria to be able to take it further.

Generally speaking, a tripping hazard must exceed 25mm (or 1 inch) in height or depth from the surrounding surface level. With this in mind, if you can provide us with photographs via email ( along with your contact number, we can review your particular enquiry and advise as to whether we feel there is any merit in further pursuit of this matter.


I fell down a broken drain cover (over 5ft drop) I injured my leg which has left me with some bad scarring. A nowinnofee company has told me they can’t take on my case. Please can you advise? Thanks

Ian Morris

What reason did the other company provide for not wishing to pursue the claim? At face value the description of your accident would indicate that you do have valid grounds to pursue a claim for compensation. We’d like to find out more about the accident and the location of the broken drain cover so that we can further advise you. Please call us on 01225430285 so that we can discuss this with you.


Whilst out on a run a few days ago I badly went over on my ankle due to uneven pavement. My ankle is severely swollen and bruised. I have photographs of the pavement but haven’t been to a GP or hospital. Would I be able to make a claim?

Ian Morris

The fact that you’ve not yet had medical treatment will not be an issue. However it is important that you do seek medical attention at the earliest opportunity, so do contact your GP for an appointment (a telephone consultation would be sufficient). In order to demonstrate the severity of your injuries, our Solicitors would use your medical records, but if you take some photographs of your ankle showing it to be swollen and bruised, that will also be useful evidence.

Although medical evidence is important, the key thing in a claim for compensation due to a damaged or disrepaired pavement is to demonstrate that the pavement is dangerous and should have been repaired by the local authority. With this in mind, the photographs you have of the accident site will be vital.


I was walking to my car holding my two year old grandson’s hand when I tripped on raised repair on public pavement outside my house. I could not get free of my grandsons hand and was terrified I was going to land on him. I just remember throwing my arm to side to get him out of way and then smashed my knees on the concrete followed by my face and nose. My grandson is fine but I have grazed my face, hands and knees. I have also got badly swollen nose, grazed eyelid and bruising to the nose and under my eyes. I am still trying to get through to my GP to get my nose checked – it’s very painful.

Would I be able to make a claim? I have pictures of the area and my face. I think it’s due to tree root growth as lots are protruding through the pavement. This whole area is uneven. I have reported incident to local council.

Ian Morris

You may well be entitled to make a claim for personal injury compensation and we would very much like to see the photographs you have taken of the accident site as this will be vital in evaluating whether or not a claim is viable and appropriate.


Hi I have fallen over a pothole that has already been marked out to repair, I have broken my ankle in 2 places and caused injury to my pelvis. I fell in the dark around 9pm and this hole or markings couldn’t be seen. I’ve later gone back to check the hole where I fell and the hole fits the bottom part of my crutch stick in so roughly around 2/3 inches deep.

Ian Morris

Please provide some photographs of the pothole with a measurement of the depth visible (along with a few close up images and a couple from further back) via email to so that we can advise you further.


Tripped over a curb and shattered my femur requiring reconstruction. The curb was sticking up 2cm and is wobbly. It’s on top of a slight incline from level pavement. Can I claim?

Ian Morris

Please forward photographs of the disrepaired curb, ideally showing measurements with a brief video showing the curb wobble to us via email at Please include a contact number and we can then advise you further as you may well be able to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation.


It’s been almost 2 months since I was injured in a store parking lot from damage pavement separated. The cart went into the hole and hit me in my chest area. I reported the incident. I’m still experiencing discomfort . Would the store be liable for injuries?

Ian Morris

If a landowner has allowed a hazard to patrons or visitors to remain present when they should have known it was there and removed it, the landowner or occupier may be liable for injuries sustained as a result of their negligence in allowing said hazard to remain in situ.


Hi there my partner went over on his ankle damaging ligaments on a public road we had a private X-ray and have photographic evidence, can you help?

Ian Morris

We can certainly review this matter and consider whether there are reasonable prospects of success to enable our Solicitors to pursue a claim. The first thing we need to do is review the photographs you have – please forward them to us at along with a contact number and we’ll be able to advise further.


I’ve fallen over very badly today, outside a shop that I was delivering to. The steps are all uneven loose or broken and there’s no disabled access either (although I’m not disabled). I’ve cut my eye lid open plus it’s swollen, I’ve cut both arms, have a huge graze to my knee and my knee is swollen. My ankle hurts too.

Do I need to go to hospital 1st if I want to pursue this matter? I also have a witness but I am unsure if he will help.

Ian Morris

You don’t have to go to the Hospital or see a GP before you start a claim, but it is probably a sensible idea to get an understanding of the injuries you have sustained and rule out any more serious injuries such as a fracture or infection, so attending either an A&E centre or making a GP appointment would be a prudent move and it would definitely help your case later on.


Hi, i work at a hotel and we’ve reported flags being raised outside as we have elderly guests. I am 30 years old and I just cracked my big toenail on one of the REPORTED slabs outside the hotel. I’m athletic and fit, I’m not elderly. We have reported this and chased it up multiple times as we have log numbers in the office but nothing has happened and unfortunately I’ve had an accident.

Can i claim?

Ian Morris

Your employer has certainly been (and continues to be) negligent in the fact that the dangerous flagstones have been reported, but nothing has been done to make the area safe. If you haven’t already done so, obtain some photographs of the accident site and make sure that the details of your injury are recorded within the employers accident book.

With regards to your situation, the only question we now need to ask is the severity of the injury as it would certainly seem that there is a valid claim to be made so long as we can demonstrate that your injury warrants such action.


I tripped on an uneven pavement. The left side of my body fell in the road and the right side on the pavement. My left shoulder got dislocated and I had bad bruising to one knee. This happened one year and five months ago. There was so much going on in my life during this time. I do have photos of the pavement with a tape measure that were taken at the time. Is it still ok to make a claim now?

Ian Morris

You are still within the limitation period to pursue a claim as you have up to 3 years from the date of the accident in which you can pursue action for personal injury compensation.

Please email the photograph you mention to us at along with your name, contact number and a brief description of the accident and we’ll be more than happy to have our Solicitors advise you and if practical, to pursue your claim on a No Win No Fee basis.


My daughter today had a fall she is 2 years old her foot went into a crack in the path outside my house and caused a bad head injury which ambulance come and took her to hospital her head has swollen so much. The crack is part of my property as it is on the housing association grounds. Can we make a claim?

Ian Morris

Please take some photographs of the area where your daughter fell, ideally with some measurements visible (use a ruler or tape measure) and email them to us at along with your contact number so that we can help you to make a claim on behalf of your daughter.


I Was crossing the road with my 11 month old in the pram when the pram tipped over the curb into a pothole causing the pushchair to tip the baby right over inside without me being able to stop it, luckily baby was fine more shock then anything but the push bar into the pram went into my diaphragm during the incident causing bruising and cramps would i be able to claim?

Ian Morris

You may well be able to make a claim. Please obtain photographs of the accident site, showing close up images of the pothole in question – ideally with a clear measurement of the depth visible – and a couple of images from further back so that we can review your claim for you.

Please email your photographs and contact number to us at: and we’ll be in touch to help further.

Chat with us for friendly, expert advice 01225 430285