How to win a public liability claim for tripping accident compensation

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If you are one of the many people who has suffered a painful injury as a result of tripping on a broken pavement, raised flagstone, pothole or other unsafe area of footpath or road surface, you may well be considering putting in a claim for compensation.

Claims for personal injury compensation that are made as a result of injuries sustained in a tripping accident are one of the most well-known types of accident compensation claim even though they are not the largest individual claim type.  Common injuries associated with claims for tripping accident compensation include bone fractures to wrists and ankles, soft tissue damage to the knees and facial injuries.  Many people who suffer the worst injuries from tripping accidents tend to be pensioners as they fall hard and struggle to recover fully as a result of the huge effect that their injuries have on them.

At Direct2Compensation we are well experienced in handling public liability personal injury compensation claims after tripping accidents, falls in potholes and other similar incidents.  At first glance, someone who trips over on a pothole or dodgy curb may not appear to be injured.  Such accidents often seem innocuous, but we can say from experience that people who do trip on a pothole or fall in the street often suffer serious injuries.  With this in mind, making a claim for personal injury compensation is a reasonable course of action to take.

Proving liability

Most claims for personal injury compensation that arise from public liability related tripping accidents happen on public footpaths or roads, in shopping or residential areas.  The majority of these claims will be made against the highways department of a local authority and their insurers.  However, to make a successful claim for personal injury compensation for tripping accident claims, a claimant will need to present a strong claim that proves the liability for their injuries rests with the local authority or landowner.

The key thing is to prove liability and it can be a difficult thing to do.  The courts have decided that case law dictates that a local authority highways department should have a reasonable period of time to inspect and repair the footpaths, pavements and road surfaces in their area.  This is reasonable and understandable.  With this in mind, a claimant has to prove that the local authority have failed to uphold their statutory duties and left a pavement in a dangerous condition for a long period of time.

To know if you can claim after tripping on a pavement, the general rule of thumb to win compensation is that the hazard that caused the claimant to trip, stumble or roll their ankle and fall, has a vertical tripping edge in excess of 25mm (thats 1 inch in old money).  That’s a fairly easy thing for a claimant to identify when they look at whats caused their fall.  The more complex issue is proving how long the raised flagstone, pothole or uneven pavement surface has been in situ.  The courts have stated that a claimant needs to demonstrate that the hazard that caused their accident has been in situ for a minimum of 6 months, often 12 months.  So how do you do this?

Hazard witness

To greatly increase the strength of  your tripping accident compensation claim, you can obtain witness evidence from local shop keepers, residents or other regular users of a footpath or pavement regarding the condition of the pavement.  These people will not have witnessed the claimants 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.

If you have been injured after a fall on the pavement, by the shops or near where you live you may be unsure as to whether or not you have a viable tripping accident claim.  Don’t let this worry you, our advice is that you should contact us without delay.  We know your rights, can give you advice and help about understanding the strengths or otherwise of your claim.  Often a simple photograph emailed to us will help us identify whether or not you should make a claim for compensation.  Most of us carry camera phones that can email images these days and starting your claim is easy.

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Questions & Answers

  1. Rosie

    I slipped off the edge of a public footpath. I did try to catch my balance, but twisted my foot on the uneven grass, came off the curb and fell on a pothole in the road. I end up going to A&E and found out that I had suffered damage to the soft tissue & muscles around my knee cap. Should I make a claim?

    • Ian Morris

      For us to be able to advise as to whether or not you can pursue a claim, we need to gain a better understanding of your fall and see photographs of the accident site.

      Please forward photographs of the accident site and the pothole where you fell (ideally including images with a measurement showing the depth of the pothole) to us at along with your contact number so that we can review the matter for you and offer you some guidance regarding a potential claim.

  2. Douglas

    I fell in a pothole with my wife on my arm, I pulled her over. I suffered some soft tissue injuries, but my wife fractured her wrist. Am i able to claim for my wife’s injuries?

    • Ian Morris

      You can certainly claim for your soft tissue injuries and your wife may be able to make a claim, but the likelihood of any claim she makes is that if it were successful, an element of contributory negligence would be held against the claimant. That said, it would still be worth making a claim if the pothole was sufficiently big (usually over 25mm deep).

  3. Mark

    I fractured my ankle as I tripped off a curb. The curbed area was (and still is) in darkness. Due to the extent of the injury I have a plate in my ankle. Would this be grounds for a claim?

    • Ian Morris

      Whether or not you have a valid claim will depend on whether or not negligence can be attached to whoever has responsibility or ownership of the land where you fell. To find out if you do have a claim, we need to know some further information. Our specialist staff would ask you whether there was there a fault with the curb, such as a broken piece or something sticking up that caused you to trip. If so, you may have a valid claim. If not and you simply fell because it was dark, any claim would be less likely to succeed – unless the darkness was caused by disrepaired or broken street lighting.

      There is no statutory duty to fit street lighting. So if there are simply no lights, it is very unlikely that you could make a claim. However, if there are lights in situ, but they do not work or are faulty, you probably can make a claim.

      The best bet would be to make further contact with us so that we can advise you in detail.

  4. Yvonne

    Does my employer need to prove liability for an accident at work and do they need to prove it was my fault – which it was not?

    • Ian Morris

      For you to succeed with a claim for accident at work compensation, we will need to be able to establish employer negligence as the cause of your injuries. In just a couple of minutes on the phone with us, we’ll be able to find out exactly what caused your accident and ask the right questions about training and health and safety in your workplace in order that we’ll be able to advise you as to whether or not we think you can pursue a claim against your employer.

      It is for the employer to defend any claim made against them and by making a claim – which is your legal right – you cannot lose your job or have your working rights reduced. Remember, we work on a fully No Win No Fee basis, so you have nothing to lose by pursuing a claim or at least, speaking with our expert Solicitors.

  5. RNR Rawlings

    Hi I tripped whilst stepping up a kerb, it was on a holiday site and the kerb had been painted with a smooth finish white paint, it was raining and the smooth wet paint was as slippery as ice. I fell damaging clothing, property and my shoulder.
    Would I have grounds to claim?

    • Ian Morris

      You do have the right to try and pursue a claim for compensation in this instance and we would like to put this to our specialist Solicitors to get their opinion for you. Do you have photographs of the kerb in question and was the accident reported to the Reception of the Holiday site?

  6. michelle

    hi i was in town last night just doing an everyday thing and i slipped due to someone putting a long cardboard box outside their shop. My legs went underneath me and fell on my bottom due to a wet soaking box, also it was dark and couldn’t see it so it was around 5 clock .
    Then told them about this and said i just work here, watch where you are going, then told them could of been a baby or an old lady.
    Told me to go away then this old man came up and said it was my right to walk in a public place and they should of had a sign up.
    I have a joint problem called fibromyalgia which is now some what playing me up us i have hurt my back due to this.
    I didn’t take any pictures as my daughter and her friend was very upset due to my fall, also had my friend with me, hope you can help me.

    • Ian Morris


      I am sorry to hear about your accident, it must have been upsetting to say the least.

      I would suggest that you do two important things to protect your interests further to any possible claim that you opt to pursue. You should return to the accident location and request that the shop make a record of your accident within their accident book. Speak to the Manager of the store, complain about the discarded cardboard box and tell them that you hold them liable. They may refuse to record this within their accident book, if so, ask for their registered head office address and write to them outlining what happened, when, where and what injuries you received. Send this by recorded delivery, retaining proof of purchase and a copy of the letter for your records. You should also make sure that you see your GP, advising them of the accident and of the symptoms that this has caused you to suffer from.

      Once you have done this, it puts everything on record and gives a ‘paper trail’ for a specialist injury compensation solicitor to follow when helping you to make a no win no fee claim. I would also advise that you re-visit our website and complete a claim enquiry form. This will allow one of our team to contact you in confidence to discuss things further and help you to get your claim for compensation started.

      Yours sincerely

      Ian Morris

Direct2Compensation Personal Injury Claims

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