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 claim, and how to go about it.
What the law says about claiming for pavement trips
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, knee, hip 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
It can often be difficult to prove if a defect, such a pothole, has been repaired. To succeed with a claim for compensation for injuries sustained in a pavement accident, it is important to provide clear photographic evidence of the pothole or hazard that was the cause of it. 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.
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.
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 a falling on uneven pavements?
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 injury||Compensation 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 Direct2Compensation can help
Instructing the services of a specialist claims expert is always a good idea to give your claim the best possible chances of success. It won’t surprise you to learn that people who attempt to pursue a claim without legal representation often have a less satisfactory outcome, and may even fail with a claim that a specialist solicitor would succeed with.
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 trip or slip or want to ask about whether or not your injuries will entitle you to claim, simply contact us and we’ll happily help.