Succeeding with claims for personal injury compensation isn’t always easy and although we take as much hassle out of the claims process as possible, some types of personal injury claim prove much harder to succeed with than others. One such type is public liability compensation claims, usually after a fall or trip on a damaged section of footpath, a trip in a pothole or on a broken section of local authority owned pavement or highway. In order to win claims for slipping and tripping injury compensation, claimants must gather as much evidence as possible to help their solicitor force the defending insurers to admit liability.
What the law says about proving liability
Claiming personal injury compensation after a tripping accident isn’t easy due to precedents set by the courts, which has made defending such claims fairly easy for local authorities. This is because the courts have decided in previous judgements that the onus to succeed in such claims should rest on the claimant. The courts have found that to prove liability in tripping accident compensation claims, claimants must show that a local authority or landowner responsible for the site of their accident had known that a hazard was present before the client was injured. Furthermore, they must demonstrate that the local authority had reasonable time to inspect that area of pavement/highway and should have repaired the hazard and removed the risk of someone suffering an injury as a result. The basic rule is that claimants need to prove that the hazard responsible for their accident had been in situ for a minimum of at least 6 months before their accident. Although this can be a hard thing to prove, it can be done and it helps to know what to do after an accident as this will help you to ensure that you have the right evidence to support your claim.
Reporting, recording and gathering evidence
Precedent states that any local authority highways departments should (in most cases) inspect every section of their roads and footpaths once every 6 months. An inspector should record the roads and pavements that they have inspected and the local authority should hold a record of the inspections that they have carried out. If when defending a claim for slip and trip personal injury compensation, a highways department can provide a report that shows that they inspected the area where a claimant was injured within the last 6 months and no defect was found, it is most likely that the claimant will not succeed with their claim. Whilst this will see a claimant not win any compensation, they will not face any costs.
However, just because a council provide an inspection report, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be held liable. In some cases, courts have found that the inspection regime of a local authority was inadequate. For example, in one instance a court Judge hearing a claim for compensation against a local authority was of the opinion that the inspection was inadequate and although they had checked the pavements, they hadn’t done so thoroughly and were therefore liable for the claim that they faced. This was because the inspection was a simple drive by inspection of the streets and estates, rather than an on foot walk through. On some streets, a drive by inspection may be adequate, but on others a hazardous section of footpath could be obstructed from view if it was not walked. Of course, the local authority welcome reports of dangerous and broken footpaths and can act on such reports. Although it has been reported that there is a backlog of pothole repairs, the onus to repair a defect quickly is still there.
As with all accidents, it is important to report and record your accident correctly. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do this as we can advise you how to make sure that you do report the details to the right people quickly. When you report a tripping accident and injuries to a local authority, they should give you a report log number and may well send you an incident report form. Before sending this in, we think the best advice is to advocate hiring a specialist personal injury solicitor to run your claim, as this will give you the best chance of succeeding with a claim for personal injury compensation. However, in order to maximise your prospects of succeeding with your claim, there are things you can do to help your solicitor win your claim.
When it comes to proving that a hazard has been in situ for a sufficient period of time to enable you to prove that the local authority are liable for your accident, there may well be people out there who can act as a witness to the hazard that caused your injuries. For example, if a pothole has been on a footpath by a row of houses, it is likely that the residents of those houses will know how long it has been there for. Also, 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 pothole 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. This isn’t a witness to the accident, but to state that the hazard has been in situ for a certain period of time, where it is and how big it is. When tripping accidents occur in shopping areas or by other public buildings, you should approach shop staff and ask them the same, or a postman if you see one. Most people are angry about broken pavements and are more than willing to act as a witness to support a claimant as they know that a successful claim will help to make sure that the local authority speed up their inspection and repair regime.
We understand that it is hard to know if you whether you have a valid claim for tripping accident compensation and with this in mind, why not contact us to discuss your situation. We have years of experience in working on such claims and expert solicitors with a fantastic track record of winning claims for tripping accident victims. Contact us and make your claim today.