Every year thousands of pedestrians are injured on pavements and roads due to potholes and broken or raised paving slabs. Trips and falls in public areas are more common than you may think. Defects on paths and roads can cause serious injuries such as head injuries, broken arms and broken hips.
The law in England and Wales provides some protection to members of the public. Should councils fail to exercise their duty to keep public areas free from dangerous defects, they can be liable if someone suffers injuries.
Making a claim against the council can be difficult. However, if you can prove that the council have been negligent, then there is no reason why your claim for personal injuries and financial losses should not succeed. On occasions, there may be a dispute between an injured person and the Council and their interpretation of the law, and this could result in a Judge having to decide the outcome by way of a Court hearing.
How Difficult is it to Win a Claim Against the Council?
Firstly, you must be realistic. The law does not require every pavement or road to be completely flat and free from potholes. If this were the case, it would be a huge cost to the public, so every case needs to be considered carefully. The council will most likely deny responsibility for an accident you suffered while innocently walking along and falling as a result of a pothole or a raised paving slab. Just because the council deny liability does not mean that you cannot win your case. It is our job to review the council’s records carefully and undertake further investigations into any defence and denial of liability made by the council.
Think of a Jigsaw Puzzle – We Need to Put the Pieces Together to Build a Strong Case
Macks have been handling highway tripping cases for almost 30 years. We know that it is vital to put the pieces of evidence together to build a strong case. This is why we recommend you seek legal advice immediately if you suffer an injury on a public footpath or road.
Photographs of the defect and the surrounding area
- In order to assess your case, we will ask you for a photograph of the actual defect that caused you to suffer injury. This may be difficult for you if you have a serious injury so you may need to ask a family member to do it for you. Although in most circumstances, we will be able to visit the area and take measurements and photographs for you.
- Photographs of the defect need to be taken as soon as possible. The defect must be measured and we will also need to see a long-range photograph which shows the surrounding area including the defect. It is crucial that we can identify the exact location, so you should try to record road names, house numbers and names of nearby shops which can assist us to find the area. Your photograph should be dated too.
- Once you have your photograph, you need to mark upon it (with an arrow) your direction of travel immediately prior to your fall.
Attendance at the hospital or GP
- If you have suffered a serious injury, you will no doubt need to seek medical treatment, which also forms part of the “jigsaw”. As well as the injury conversations you had with medical staff regarding your accident will be recorded in your notes and may become crucial evidence in proving your case.
Your direction of travel and the mechanics of your fall
- As well as photographs, you need to try and remember which way you were walking and how the accident happened. Again, this can be difficult as you will no doubt have been in a state of shock when you fell, but it is crucial that you can describe exactly how you fell. For example, did you catch your toe on a raised edge, did your ankle twist and turn over as a result of standing on an uneven pothole?
- You may have been with someone when you fell, and they can confirm that the accident happened and that the fall was a result of the defect in question.
- However, other potential witnesses may include people who live nearby (or shop owners) who can state how long the defect has been present. If members of the public state that they have reported a dangerous defect, and the council has failed to take action, this could be strong evidence that helps your case.
- Knowing how long a dangerous defect has been present on a footpath or road is crucial in a highway tripping claim. The council may say that they inspected the area and did not note any defects. However, if you are able to prove otherwise, with strong witness evidence, then you are more likely to succeed.
- In recent years Google images have proved very useful in not only identifying areas but in also looking at the historic condition of a footpath or road. If you can spot the defect on Google Street View and the image was taken several months before your accident this could be a key piece in the jigsaw of evidence.
Council documents and records
- Other crucial pieces of evidence will be the council’s own records of inspection of the area where you fell. These records are not readily available to members of the public, so we will need to request them when making your claim for compensation.
Always be Truthful
You must always bear in mind that when you bring a claim for personal injury, you are entering a legal process. Not all claims end up going to Court and being assessed by a Judge at trial, but a small percentage do and if you are not truthful from the beginning of your claim you could make things very difficult for yourself and your lawyer.
Want to get started?
Our personal injury lawyers are friendly and have a wealth of experience in handling highway tripping claims. If you are confident that your accident was caused by the negligence of the council, call us today on 01642 843 667 for a no-obligation chat. Alternatively, complete our online contact form, and one of our solicitors will be in touch.
Even if you don’t have all of the relevant information to hand, we will help you to build your case and we will act on a No Win, No Fee basis to ensure there is no risk to you regarding legal fees.
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