Our specialist Public Liability team represented a lady who suffered a horrific injury when she fell at a public swimming pool on tiles that were not fit for purpose.
This case highlights the need for owners and occupiers of public buildings and places to take all necessary precautions and procedures to ensure that members of the public are not harmed.
How did the accident happen and what injuries did the client suffer?
Our client was attending an aqua aerobics class at a public swimming pool in Fife and slipped when exiting the swimming pool. The lady's left foot slipped from under her on a smooth tile and she fell landing on her hands and knees. The fall caused jarring to her hip.
Injuries suffered by our client were severe left knee pain, multiple abrasions to her left leg and both feet, discomfort in both hands and knees and an exacerbation of pre- existing osteoarthritis in her right hip. The lady required to have remedial massage and manipulation to correct misalignment of her pelvis and required to take analgesics and painkillers.
Our client's mobility was adversely affected - she was unable to climb stairs properly, had difficulty walking up inclines and bending to get dressed, showered and putting on footwear. Following the accident she walked with a severe limp. The most significant abrasion on the top of her left foot left her with a permanent scar.
Her quality of life was compromised. She suffered referred pain down the outside of her lower leg which affected her ability to sleep and caused severe discomfort. She continued to be cautious when exercising and suffered severe pain in her hip and pelvis area. In addition, she was unable to fully engage in playing with her grandchildren and her husband was required to help her with domestic duties as she was unable to lift heavy objects and bend properly. Her hobby of gardening was significantly curtailed due to her physical injuries.
Falls in public places- what is the legal position?
The fall our client experienced was as a result of a smooth tile being on the poolside that the public uses. All the other tiles by the poolside were rough non-slip tiles which are the appropriate tiles to use by a poolside.
Following our client's fall the staff employed by the leisure centre advised that a box of equipment was usually placed over this smooth tile to prevent people from falling on the smooth tile. This practice breaches a duty of care owed to the public and was caused due to the fault and negligence of the Trust that managed the leisure centre. They failed in the following duties of care:
- to take reasonable care for the safety of all visitors and users to the leisure centre;
- to take reasonable care to ensure that any hazards did not present a risk of harm to others;
- to ensure all visitors were made aware of any hazards;
- to take reasonable care to have an adequate system of inspection in place; and
- to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury to our client.
In all of the above duties the leisure centre failed. The law in relation to negligence is based on common law and also the law of statute. The duties of care listed above are common law duties. Not only were these common law duties of care breached, there was also a breach of the statutory duty of care in terms of section 2 of the Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act. Section 2 outlines that an occupier of premises is required to exercise reasonable care to ensure that a person will not suffer injury or damage when in the premises.
The Claims Process
Our specialist Public Liability team ingathered evidence and intimated details of our client's claim to the occupiers of the leisure centre who then instructed their insurance company. The insurance company representing the leisure centre admitted they had breached these duties and admitted fault.
It is the duty of the person suffering any loss and injury to prove their case and provide evidence of loss. Our team worked with the client to supply photographic evidence of the poolside and our client's injuries. A medical report from a specialist medical consultant was instructed to narrate the injuries suffered by our client and long-term effects of her injuries.
The accident had a significant impact on our client and she suffered debilitating injuries and permanent scarring. We were able to recover compensation for our client for the following parts of her claim:
- her Personal Injury claim;
- recovery of physiotherapy costs;
- services provided to her by her family; and
However, had the occupiers of the leisure centre met the duties of care they owed to our client in the first place this accident would not have occurred. This case highlights the dangers that can occur to people when occupiers do not take reasonable precautions to keep people safe.
The client commented about the service she received: "During the claim process, my telephone conversations with the solicitor who was representing me were positive on every occasion and he listened to my opinions with patience during his regular updates. I was appreciative of his advice and his efforts to secure an increased compensation payment".
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.