HM Insights

Slip in a public place – securing compensation when duties of care are breached

Our specialist Public Liability team represented a lady who suffered injuries when she fell on a broken pavement slab, and secured compensation from the Local Authority responsible for the pavement. The case highlights the need for local authorities to maintain pavements and to take all necessary precautions and procedures to ensure that members of the public are not harmed.

Public Liability Claims Damages Insights

How did the accident happen and what injuries did the client suffer?

Our client was an elderly lady who fell when she was walking on a path towards her home. Her foot caught on an uneven slab causing her to fall forward down three steps. In trying to stop herself falling she suffered a fracture to her right wrist. After going to A&E her wrist was x-rayed and subsequently immobilised in a plaster cast and sling, which she required to have on for a period of six weeks.

Following removal of the cast our client experienced stiffness in her right wrist. As a result of the injuries, our client struggled with many aspects of her life including housework and required significant assistance from her daughter and granddaughter. In addition she required assistance via the social work department.

Our client was unable to drive for a six weeks following her accident. Despite the main effects of the injury settling down, she suffered a weakness and loss of dexterity in her dominant wrist.

Falls in public places- what is the legal position?

Our client fell on broken pavement slabs on a public pathway. This pathway fell under the control of the local authority who owe members of the public certain duties of care.

In this particular case the authority failed in the following duties of care:

  • to take reasonable care for the safety of pedestrians using the footpath;
  • to take reasonable care to avoid exposing pedestrians to unnecessary risk of injury;
  • to take reasonable care to maintain public footpaths;
  • to institute and maintain a system of inspection and maintain and to monitor defects; and
  • to ensure that inspections were carried out properly.

In all of the above duties the local authority failed and as a result of this our client had a successful case in terms of liability (fault).

The Claims Process

Our specialist Public Liability team ingathered evidence and intimated details of our client's claim to the local authority. Our team recovered the maintenance and inspection records of the local authority which illustrated that had a proper system of inspection been adhered to then the defect would have been noted and the accident would not have happened.

It is the duty of the person suffering any loss and injury to prove their case and provide evidence of loss. A medical report from a specialist medical consultant was instructed to outline the injuries suffered by our client and any long term effects of her injuries.

Court action was required

The local authority refused to accept that they had failed in their duties of care and indicated they had no offers to make to our client. It was therefore necessary for us to raise a court action on behalf of our client.

As a result of raising a court action for our client we were able to recover compensation for the following parts of her claim:

  • her Personal Injury claim;
  • services provided to her by her family; and
  • inconvenience.

Had the local authority met the duties of care they owed to our client in the first place this accident would not have occurred. Had the local authority accepted that they had failed in their duties of care and made a reasonable offer in respect of our client's case it would not have been necessary to raise a court action. This case highlights the dangers that can occur to people when local authorities do not take reasonable precautions to keep people safe.

Contact our personal injury solicitors

If you've suffered a similar injury our solicitors can help you secure the justice and compensation you deserve. Get in touch now for a free chat about your claim. Call us free on 0800 904 7777 or find out more information about the personal injury service we provide.


The small print: This blog is for information purposes only and should not be construed in any way as providing legal advice.