Public liability compensation claims

The most common type of accident in a public place is a tripping, slipping or falling accident, where a Claimant falls because of a defect in the highway (usually a pavement or a road). Injuries sustained as a result of these types of accidents are usually to the feet, legs, hips, arms, hands and wrists, which get caught in the defect or make contact with the ground upon impact.

Pavements and roads are generally, but not exclusively, under the control of the local council or highway agency and it is their responsibility to ensure that the roads and pavements are kept in a good condition. This is usually achieved by them having a system of inspection and maintenance in place. The system of inspection and maintenance will differ depending on the type of road and pavement in question.

A defect could be a pot hole or cracked tarmac in the road or pavement, or loose paving stones which have protruded to form a lip.

To succeed in these claim types there are 3 tests that must be passed, which are:

  1. The hazard that caused the fall or trip is on a piece of highway that is maintainable through public funds.
  2. The defect is so bad that it requires repair. The usual rule of thumb is that the pot hole or lip has to be 1.5 inches deep/high to be classed as defective.
  3. The relevant local council or highways agency does not have a suitable or sufficient system of inspection and maintenance in place.

If the relevant local council or highways agency can show that they have a suitable or sufficient system of inspection and maintenance in place then they will have an automatic defence to any claim under s.58 of the Highways Act 1980.

Public liability claims are not exclusively tripping, slipping and falling accidents. There are other types of accidents that could be sustained in a public place, examples of which are:

  • injury caused by damaged play equipment in parks and public recreational areas
  • injury caused from a defective bench or picnic tables in public places
  • injury caused from broken stiles or gates allowing for public access
  • injury caused by a falling branch
  • injured by a broken road sign
  • defective street furniture causing injury.

The types of injury from these types of accident could be anything from puncture wounds sustained from protruding nails to serious head injury sustained from falling branches.

If an accident occurs in the workplace, it is known as an employer’s liability claim.   If an accident occurs in a public space that is not publicly funded, eg a supermarket or a nightclub, then it is usually classed as an occupier’s liability claim.

If you, or a loved one, have sustained injury as a result of a trip, slip, fall or other type of accident in a public place, please contact our Public Liability lawyers to obtain advice on the possibility of pursuing a compensation claim on Freephone 0808 164 0808 or complete the request a call back form and we will call you back.